THE PASSIVE VOICE M iguel Á ngel R odríguez L ópez
We use the Passive Voice when the Agent is unknown or unimportant: People speak English = English is spoken all over the world.They serve seafood in that restaurant = Seafood is served in that restaurant.
Or to make the Object of the Active Sentence more important: Hamlet was written by Shakespeare. A window has been broken.
From Active to Passive Voice: ACTIVE: Peter bought a car PASSIVE: A car was bought by Peter
CHANGES:Active Object becomes Passive Subject: A car Verb “Be” in the same tense as Active Verb + Active Verb in the Past Participle: is boughtSubject: Agent with “BY”: by Peter (We omit it when it isn’t relevant)
Check this chart:He writes novels: Novels are written by him.He is writing novels: Novels are BEING WRITTENHe wrote novels: Novels were WRITTENHe was writing novels: Novels were BEING WRITTENHe has written novels: Novels have BEEN WRITTENHe had written novels: Novels had BEEN WRITTENHe can/ will/ may/ …write novels: Novels can/ will/ may BE WRITTENHe can/may / will/ have written novels: Novels can/ may/ will HAVE BEEN WRITTEN .
Sentences with two Objects:When the active sentence has two Objects (verbs such as give, tell, send, …) : Mary will tell you everything. Joe has given me a present.The INDIRECT OBJECT often becomes the SUBJECT in the Passive: You will be told everything by Mary. I have been given a present by Joe.
Verbs like:Believe, Think, Consider, Estimate, Know, Expect, … when followed by a subordinate clause: They think that Joe is a good worker. Change to:
1) It + Passive Verb + Subordinate Clause: It is thought that Joe is a good worker. OR 2) Subordinate Subject + Passive Verb + Subordinate Active Verb in Infinitive: Joe is thought to be a good worker.
HAVE/ GET SOMETHING DONE (Causative Passive): When you arrange to / pay for / etc. someone else do a thing for you : I had/got my hair cut (by the hairdresser)I’ve just had/got my car repaired (by a mechanic).