Use of PassivePassive voice is used when the focus is on the action. It is not important or not known, however, who or what is performing the action.
Sometimes a statement in passive is more polite than active voice, as the following example shows:
Form of PassiveSubject + finite form of to be + Past Participle (3rd column of irregular verbs)
- the object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence
- the finite form of the verb is changed (to be + past participle)
- the subject of the active sentence becomes the object of the passive sentence (or is dropped)
Examples of Passive Level: lower intermediate
|Simple Present||Active:||Rita||writes||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||is written||by Rita.|
|Simple Past||Active:||Rita||wrote||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||was written||by Rita.|
|Present Perfect||Active:||Rita||has written||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||has been written||by Rita.|
|Future I||Active:||Rita||will write||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||will be written||by Rita.|
|Hilfsverben||Active:||Rita||can write||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||can be written||by Rita.|
Examples of Passive Level: upper intermediate
|Present Progressive||Active:||Rita||is writing||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||is being written||by Rita.|
|Past Progressive||Active:||Rita||was writing||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||was being written||by Rita.|
|Past Perfect||Active:||Rita||had written||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||had been written||by Rita.|
|Future II||Active:||Rita||will have written||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||will have been written||by Rita.|
|Conditional I||Active:||Rita||would write||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||would be written||by Rita.|
|Conditional II||Active:||Rita||would have written||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||would have been written||by Rita.|
Passive Sentences with Two Objects Level: intermediateRewriting an active sentence with two objects in passive voice means that one of the two objects becomes the subject, the other one remains an object. Which object to transform into a subject depends on what you want to put the focus on.
|Subject||Verb||Object 1||Object 2|
|Active:||Rita||wrote||a letter||to me.|
|Passive:||A letter||was written||to me||by Rita.|
|Passive:||I||was written||a letter||by Rita.|
As you can see in the examples, adding by Rita does not sound very elegant. That’s why it is usually dropped.
Personal and Impersonal PassivePersonal Passive simply means that the object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence. So every verb that needs an object (transitive verb) can form a personal passive.
Sometimes the term Personal Passive is used in English lessons if the indirect object of an active sentence is to become the subject of the passive sentence.