ENGLISH GRAMMAR The Passive Voice
THE PASSIVE VOICE
The passive of an active tense is formed by putting the verb to be into the same tense as the active verb and adding the past participle of the active verb. The subject of the active verb becomes the ‘agent’ of the passive verb. The agent is very often not mentioned. When it is mentioned it is preceded by by and placed at the end of the clause.
Active: My grandfather planted this tree.
Passive: This tree was planted by my grandfather.
PASSIVE VERB TENSES
He delivers the letters.
He delivered the letters.
He will deliver the letters.
He is delivering the letters.
He was delivering the letters.
He is going to deliver the letters.
He has delivered the letters.
He had delivered the letters.
He has to deliver the letters.
He must deliver the letters.
The letters are delivered.
The letters were delivered.
The letters will be delivered.
The letters are being delivered.
The letters were being delivered.
The letters are going to be delivered.
The letters have been delivered.
The letters had been delivered.
The letters have to be delivered.
The letters must be delivered.
+ S + am/is/are + Ptp
- S + am/is/are + not + Ptp
S + am/is/are + not +being + Ptp
S + have/has + not + been + Ptp
Am/Is/Are) + S + being + Ptp ?
Have/Has) + S + been + Ptp ?
+ S + was/were + Ptp
S + was/were + being + Ptp
S + had + been + Ptp
- S + was/were + not + Ptp
S + was/were + not + being + Ptp
S + had + not + been + Ptp
? Was/Were + S +PtpV ?
S + have/has + been + Ptp
? Am/Is/Are + S + Ptp ?
S + am/is/are + being + Ptp
Was/Were + S + being + Ptp?
Had + S + been + Ptp
+ S + will + be + Ptp
- S + will + not + be + Ptp
? Will + S + be + Ptp ?
+ S + V to be (am/is/are) + going to +
be + Ptp
GOING TO - S + V to be (am/is/are) + not + going
to + be + Ptp
V to be (am/is/are) + S + going to +
be + Ptp ?
To make short answers:
we use the verb to be (am/is/are/was/were) for Present Simple, Past Simple, Present Continuous, Past Continuous and Going To questions.
we use the verb have (have/has/had) for Present Perfect and Past Perfect questions. we use will for Future Simple questions.
The Passive is used:
1. when the agent (=the person who does the action) is unknown, unimportant or obvious from the context.
Jane was shot. (We don’t know who shot her.)
This church was built in 1815. (Unimportant agent)
He has been arrested. (Obviously by the police)
2. to make more polite or formal statements.
The car hasn’t been cleaned. (more polite)
(You haven’t cleaned the car. – less polite)
3. when the action is more important than the agent, as in processes, instructions, events, reports, headlines, new items, and advertisements.
30 people were killed in the earthquake.
4. to put emphasis on the agent.
The new library will be opened by the Queen.
To say who did the action that we are talking about, ie. to refer to the agent, we use the preposition by and the name (by Peter) , noun (by the teacher) or pronoun (by him) at the end of the sentence. We usually only refer to the agent when it gives us some important information which otherwise would be missing from the sentence.
Our house was designed by a famous architect.
We don’t mention the agent:
1. if we don’t know who has done what we are talking about. Our car was stolen last night. (We don’t know who stole it) 2. if we are not interested in who has done what we are talking about or it is not important to mention it.
He has been taken to hospital. (What we are interested in is the fact that he has been taken to hospital and not who has taken him.)
3. if it is easy to...
Bibliography: - A. J. Thomson and A.V. Martinet, A Practical English Grammar, Oxford University Press, 1986
- M. Carling and S. Jervis, Grammar Time 4, Longman, 2003
- M. Carling, Grammar Time 6, Longman, 2003
Please join StudyMode to read the full document