◦ How is it formed?
BE Past participle of a transitive verb
My car was stolen
We can use a by-phrase after the passive verb to say who or what causes the
My car was repaired by Andrew
We use passive verbs to say what happens to the subject.
Two men were arrested.
Active verbs are used to say what the subject does.
The police arrested two men.
Active and Passive
◦ We use an active verb to say
what the subject does.
◦ We use the object of an active
verb as the subject of a passive
We clear the table and wash the dishes
vs. The table is cleared and the dishes
◦ We use a passive verb to say what
happens to the subject.
◦ We cant create passives from
Rick came later NOT Rick was come
Am/is/are Past participle
Am/is/are being Past participle
Have/ has been Past participle
Past simple passive Was/ were Past participle
Was/were being Past participle
Past perfect passive Had been Past Participle
Verbs with and without objects
1. We create passives from
transitive verbs not from
intransitive verbs (or
2. We usually create passives
from verbs which describe
action, not states.
That belongs to me NOT That is
belonged to me
Verbs with two objects
◦ We can create two passive structures when we use
those verbs which can have an indirect object and
a direct object.
They awarded Maria first time----- Active
◦ The passive structure we choose depends on
which person or thing we want to talk about.
◦ We put the indirect object as subject or after the
preposition to, not after the verb.
A note was handed to Cecilia NOT A note was handed
◦ We can use a DO as subject of a passive, but not
another noun that classifies it.
They elected Clinton president twice --- Clinton was elected
President twice---- NOT
President was elected Clinton twice.
Passives with by-phrases and
◦ Passives with by-phrases
◦ The agent is the person or thing
that does or causes the action (in
active sentences, the agent is the
◦ In passive sentences, we don't
usually mention the agent.
◦ We can include the agent in a by-
phrase after the verb when the
meaning is not complete without it
OR for emphasis and contrast.
◦ Ergatives are transitive verbs that are used without an object: the park closes at
◦ We use ergatives to say that an action simply happens, without an agent.
◦ We sometimes use ergatives instead of passives: The park is closed by the guard
◦ We can use ergatives when we want to describe natural processes and
changes or to describe actions, but not mention the cause:
The snow is melting OR I don’t know how it happened, but the string broke.
◦ We don’t use reflexive pronouns with ergatives:
The string broke itself.
◦ Others verbs used like this include: burst, crack, grow, increase, shake,