Grammar Lesson: Passive Voice Presented by Thomas Mazzolla Wilkes University for ESL 502
Passive VoiceThe topic of this lesson is the Passive Voice. First let’s examine what we mean by “voice.” In grammar, it doesn’t mean the sound produced by the human vocal cords.
Definition of Voice in Grammar Voice shows the form of a verb indicating whether the subject is doing the action or receiving the action.
Active Voice In Active Voice, the subject does the action of the verb:Subject + Verb + Object =Doer of action + verb + receiver of actionExamples:Chris bought the eggs.Manuel read the book.
Passive Voice In Passive Voice, the subject and direct object change places, and the subject receives the action:Subject + Verb by Object. =Receiver of action + verb by doer of actionExamples:The eggs were bought by Chris.The book was read by Manuel.
Changing a verb from active to passive voice requires adding a form of the verb “to be” as an auxiliary and changing the main verb to its past participle form: Active PassiveSimple Present I see her. She is seen by me.Simple Past I saw her. She was seen by me.Simple Future I will see her. She will be seen by me.Present Progressive I am seeing her. She is being seen by me.Past Progressive I was seeing her. She was being seen by me.Future Progressive I will be seeing her. She will be seen by me.Present Perfect I have seen her. She has been seen by me.Past Perfect I had seen her. She had been seen by me.Future Perfect I will have seen her. She will have been seen by me.
Let’s focus on the simple forms of the passive voiceActive: I saw her.Passive: She is seen by me. Notice the passive doer of the action is after the verb following “by” if the doer of the action is stated. The doer of the action can be omitted from the sentence.Active: I cooked the rice.Passive: The rice was cooked by me.
Remember that verbs can be either transitive (need an object of the action) or intransitive (need no object).Examples:He throws the ball.Throws is a transitive verb.He sleeps.Sleeps is an intransitive verb.
Remember that only transitive verbs can become passive.A simple test to determine if a verb is transitive or intransitive is to try to make it passive.Examples:The ball is thrown. Throw is transitive.He sleeps. Cannot make passive. Sleep is intransitive.
Passive Voice TipToo many sentences in passive voice make a written passage wordy and dull.Use passive voice only where it is needed so it will not lose its effect.
ExerciseAre these sentences Active or Passive?1. The teacher was told that his student is absent. Answer: Passive
ExerciseAre these sentences Active or Passive?2. Hamid took the book to the library. Answer: Active
ExerciseAre these sentences Active or Passive?3. The book was dropped by Liz. Answer: Passive
ExerciseAre these sentences Active or Passive?4. A great time was had by everyone. Answer: Passive
ExerciseAre these sentences Active or Passive?5. Mr. Han drove his truck to the dump. Answer: Active
ExerciseAre these sentences Active or Passive?6. The burglar was caught by the police. Answer: Passive
ExerciseAre these sentences Active or Passive?7. My mother was seen by the doctor at the hospital. Answer: Passive
ExerciseAre these sentences Active or Passive?8. Our mayor and the senator were given applause for their comments last night. Answer: Passive
ExerciseAre these sentences Active or Passive?9. The football player in the red shirt runs toward the goal quickly. Answer: Active
ExerciseAre these sentences Active or Passive?10. The goal line was approached by the football player. Answer: Passive
Application: Look at the picture andmake up sentences about it using the passive voice.
Some examples of sentences based on the picture• The board is being written on by the boy and girl.• The kitten is being given by the boy.• The fish tank is being cleaned.• The classroom door is being opened by the boy.• The student is being sneezed on.• The apple is being given.• The toy is being played with by the children.• The girl is being hugged.
SourcesCliffs Study Solver. (2003). English Grammar. New York, NY: Wiley Publishing, Inc.http://www.eslflow.com/picturelessonsandteac hingideas.html
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