Sesión 2

How is honey made? This sentence is an example of the passive voice in English. In this session we take a look at when to use the passive and how it is formed.

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Using and making the passive

A simple sentence in English is formed of subject + verb + object.

Someone does something, for example:

Millions of people use the internet.
Susie planted a pine tree.
Someone has stolen my bike.

These sentences are in what is called the active voice. The speaker is focusing on the person or thing that did the action described by the verb. The person or thing that does the action described by the verb is also known as the agent.

So what is the passive voice?

Leer el texto y completar la actividad

Sometimes we are more interested in the person or thing affected by the main verb. In these cases we use the passive voice and the structure of the sentence changes.

Here are the same sentences again using the passive:

The internet is used by millions of people.
A pine tree was planted by Susie.
My bike has been stolen by someone.

The passive is often used in situations when the person or thing doing the verb is unknown, unimportant or obvious. In these cases the agent can be left out.

Take the example of the bike that was stolen. The owner doesn’t know who stole it. What is important to him or her is the bike, and that fact that it has gone:

My bike has been stolen!

Here are some other examples where the agent can be left out:

The liquid was heated to 100 degrees. (It is the process that is important, not the agent.)
The president was voted into office. (The agent is obvious.)

How to make the passive

Positive

The passive voice is made with subject + to be + past participle (+ by + object)

In the passive the main verb always has the past participle form. The verb to be changes to reflect the tense/verb form that is needed, for example the present perfect or the simple future:

Honey is made by bees.
My car has been repaired.
The winner will be announced at the end of the competition.

Negative

A negative passive sentence is formed with subject + negative of to be + past participle (+ by + object)

My car is not being repaired by our usual mechanic.
Honey is not made by wasps.
The winner will not be announced until the results have been double-checked.

Questions

Is our car being repaired by our usual mechanic?
Is
honey made by bees?
When will the winner be announced?

To do

Can you identify active and passive sentences? In this activity put each sentence into the correct column, active or passive.

Active or passive?

7 Questions

Decide whether each sentence is active or passive, then drag them into the correct columns.

Felicitaciones. Has completado el quiz.
Excellent! ¡Muy bien! Bad luck! Tu puntaje :
x / y

Active or passive?

7 Questions

Decide whether each sentence is active or passive, then drag them into the correct columns.

Felicitaciones. Has completado el quiz.
Excellent! ¡Muy bien! Bad luck! Tu puntaje :
x / y

Next

Good! Next we take a closer look at the passive and its use in spoken English.

Sesión de gramática

  • Active
    X does Y

    They built my house in two months.
    My aunt gave it to me.
    She lost her ring while on holiday.
    They will open the new cinema next month.
    The police arrested him yesterday.

    Passive
    Y is done (by X)

    My house was built in two months.
    It was given to me by my aunt.
    Her ring was lost while she was on holiday.
    The new cinema will be opened next month.
    He was arrested yesterday.

Sesión de vocabulario