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                               Passive Voice
Passive voice is used when the focus is on the action. We use the passive when we
are interested in the object of the active sentence more than the subject. It is not
important or not known who or what is performing the action. Example:

         My bike was stolen.

In the example above, the focus is on the fact that my bike was stolen. We do not know who
performed the action.

We use the passive when…

The agent is obvious, unknown or unnecessary.

         The Governor‟s Porsche was stolen in a raid.

The agent is known but the writer does not want to mention it.

         The article has been written.

The agent is general such as everyone or people.

         The reports should be submitted on time.

We always use ‘by’ to introduce the passive agent

Active                   Subject                   Verb                   Object
                         The man                   drove                  the car
                                                                 >>>
                         Snakes                    eat                    mice


Passive                  Subject                   Verb                   Object
                         The car                   was driven             by the man
                                                                 <<<
                         Mice                      are eaten              by snakes



                        Subject                    Verb                   Object
Active                  News reporters             write                  news stories
Passive                 News stories               are written            by news reporters




                         Written by Paul Adams for Teach-This.com ©2012

                                               1
TEACH-THIS.COM
The structure for active voice is Subject + Verb + Object. Examples:

1. The man found a diamond.

2. The woman drove the car.

3. The reporter wrote the story.

4. The earthquake hit Japan.

The structure for passive voice is Subject + Verb to be + Past Participle + Preposition
+ Agent.

Exercise 1 -

From the examples above re-write the news headlines using „passive voice‟.

Example. 1.______ The diamond was found by the man.___________________________

________2.                                                                            _______

________3.                                                                            _______

________4.                                                                            _______


Read the story

                     Huge Diamond Found in Bangkok Sewer System

The largest recorded diamond ever discovered was unearthed beneath the streets of lower
Sukhumvit, Bangkok last week. The 37500 karat stone was stumbled upon by a team of
maintenance workers cleaning out the sewer lines between soi‟s 89 and 90 last Friday night.
According to witnesses, the stone was found by Mr. Supakorn, of Nakhon Phanom province.
“I was walking through the sludge when suddenly I tripped over an obstacle and fell flat on
my face. When I reached down to remove the object, I noticed it had a very fine surface,
almost like glass, but it was so heavy I thought maybe it was a piece of concrete. “When I
looked at it close to the light, I couldn‟t believe my eyes”, he is reported to have told his boss.
Mr. Supakorn was immediately taken back to headquarters where the account of his story
was confirmed. The head office of Supakorn‟s company was inundated with friends and
family wanting to know more about the precious stone. After hearing media reports of his
finding, Mr. Supakorn then fled Bangkok not wanting to draw too much attention to himself.
Attempts to find Mr. Supakorn by police and local authorities have been unsuccessful. The
stone was reported to have been purchased by an unknown buyer from Dubai, going by the
name of „Mr. T‟. After collecting the precious stone from Mr. Supakorn, a private jet was
chartered to fly Mr. T, back to Dubai. The sale of the precious stone is said to have caused
devastation to the team of maintenance workers. The sewers of Bangkok have since been
overrun with prospectors looking to follow the fortunes of Mr. Supakorn.

                         Written by Paul Adams for Teach-This.com ©2012

                                                2
TEACH-THIS.COM
Exercise 2

Passive Voice Sentences

Identify four examples of passive voice sentences from the news story.

Example: The 375 karat stone was stumbled upon by a team of maintenance workers
cleaning out the sewer lines between soi‟s 89 and 90 last Friday night.
1.

__

2.

__

3.



4.



Re-write the sentences using active voice.

Example: A team of maintenance workers cleaning out the sewer lines between soi‟s 89 and
90 last Friday night stumbled upon the 37,500 karat stone.

1.

__

2.

__

3.



4.




                       Written by Paul Adams for Teach-This.com ©2012
                                              3
TEACH-THIS.COM
Exercise 3

Passive Voice Dialogue

Complete the sentences using the passive voice and then practice the dialogues with
your partner.

Dialogue 1

Noi: The diamond that (find)                           last week (sell)                 ________
a businessman from Dubai.

Por: Yeah, a huge sum of money (pay)                          to the Nakhon Phanom Province
authorities.

Noi: I heard the guy who found it (make)                                  crazy by his fame.

Por: That‟s a shame, a discovery like that should be celebrated.

Dialogue 2

Buakaw: Did you watch the Man United vs Barcelona match last night? Four goals (score)
                    by both teams.

Yodsenklai: Really? I heard that Rooney (send)                                  off for foul play.

Buakaw: Yes, but a new system of play (use)                                      .

Yodsenklai: At the end of the day, a better game (play)                                  by Man
United.

Dialogue 3

Sid: Japan (hit)                                by a 9.1 earthquake yesterday and a large
tsunami (generate)                              .

Kim: Ten cities (affect)                                and communications (disrupt)
                                 .

Sid: 50,000 residents (evacuate)                               within four hours of being
alerted.

Kim: But five evacuation centres (destroy)                                . The road (ruin)
____                   making evacuation difficult.




                           Written by Paul Adams for Teach-This.com ©2012

                                                 4
Answer key

Exercise 1

2. The car was driven by the woman.

3. The story was written by the reporter.

4. Japan was hit by the earthquake.

Exercise 2 - Possible Answers

Passive sentences

The largest recorded diamond ever discovered was unearthed beneath the streets of lower
Sukhumvit, Bangkok last week.

According to witnesses, the stone was found by Mr Supakorn, of Nakhon Phanom province.

The head office of Supakorn‟s company was inundated with friends and family wanting to
know more about the precious stone.

The stone was reported to have been purchased by an unknown buyer from Dubai, going
by the name of „Mr. T‟.

After collecting the precious stone from Mr Supakorn, a private jet was chartered to fly Mr.
T, back to Dubai.

Exercise 3

Dialogue 1
Noi: The diamond that was found last week was sold to a businessman from Dubai.
Por: Yeah, a huge sum of money was paid to the Nakhon Phanom Province authorities.
Noi: I heard the guy who found it was made crazy by his fame.
Por: That's a shame, a discovery like that should be celebrated.

Dialogue 2:
Buakaw: Did you watch the Man United vs Barcelona match last night? Four goals were
scored by both teams.
Yodsenklai: Really? I heard that Rooney was sent off for foul play.
Buakaw: Yes, but a new system of pay was used.
Yodsenklai: At the end of the day, a better game was played by Man United.

Dialogue 3:
Sid: Japan was hit by a 9.1 earthquake yesterday and a large tsunami was generated.
Kim: Ten cities were affected and communications were disrupted.
Sid: 50,000 residents were evacuated within four hours of being alerted.
Kim: But five evacuation centers were destroyed. The road was ruined making evacuation
difficult.




                                              5

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Passive voice

  • 1. TEACH-THIS.COM Passive Voice Passive voice is used when the focus is on the action. We use the passive when we are interested in the object of the active sentence more than the subject. It is not important or not known who or what is performing the action. Example: My bike was stolen. In the example above, the focus is on the fact that my bike was stolen. We do not know who performed the action. We use the passive when… The agent is obvious, unknown or unnecessary. The Governor‟s Porsche was stolen in a raid. The agent is known but the writer does not want to mention it. The article has been written. The agent is general such as everyone or people. The reports should be submitted on time. We always use ‘by’ to introduce the passive agent Active Subject Verb Object The man drove the car >>> Snakes eat mice Passive Subject Verb Object The car was driven by the man <<< Mice are eaten by snakes Subject Verb Object Active News reporters write news stories Passive News stories are written by news reporters Written by Paul Adams for Teach-This.com ©2012 1
  • 2. TEACH-THIS.COM The structure for active voice is Subject + Verb + Object. Examples: 1. The man found a diamond. 2. The woman drove the car. 3. The reporter wrote the story. 4. The earthquake hit Japan. The structure for passive voice is Subject + Verb to be + Past Participle + Preposition + Agent. Exercise 1 - From the examples above re-write the news headlines using „passive voice‟. Example. 1.______ The diamond was found by the man.___________________________ ________2. _______ ________3. _______ ________4. _______ Read the story Huge Diamond Found in Bangkok Sewer System The largest recorded diamond ever discovered was unearthed beneath the streets of lower Sukhumvit, Bangkok last week. The 37500 karat stone was stumbled upon by a team of maintenance workers cleaning out the sewer lines between soi‟s 89 and 90 last Friday night. According to witnesses, the stone was found by Mr. Supakorn, of Nakhon Phanom province. “I was walking through the sludge when suddenly I tripped over an obstacle and fell flat on my face. When I reached down to remove the object, I noticed it had a very fine surface, almost like glass, but it was so heavy I thought maybe it was a piece of concrete. “When I looked at it close to the light, I couldn‟t believe my eyes”, he is reported to have told his boss. Mr. Supakorn was immediately taken back to headquarters where the account of his story was confirmed. The head office of Supakorn‟s company was inundated with friends and family wanting to know more about the precious stone. After hearing media reports of his finding, Mr. Supakorn then fled Bangkok not wanting to draw too much attention to himself. Attempts to find Mr. Supakorn by police and local authorities have been unsuccessful. The stone was reported to have been purchased by an unknown buyer from Dubai, going by the name of „Mr. T‟. After collecting the precious stone from Mr. Supakorn, a private jet was chartered to fly Mr. T, back to Dubai. The sale of the precious stone is said to have caused devastation to the team of maintenance workers. The sewers of Bangkok have since been overrun with prospectors looking to follow the fortunes of Mr. Supakorn. Written by Paul Adams for Teach-This.com ©2012 2
  • 3. TEACH-THIS.COM Exercise 2 Passive Voice Sentences Identify four examples of passive voice sentences from the news story. Example: The 375 karat stone was stumbled upon by a team of maintenance workers cleaning out the sewer lines between soi‟s 89 and 90 last Friday night. 1. __ 2. __ 3. 4. Re-write the sentences using active voice. Example: A team of maintenance workers cleaning out the sewer lines between soi‟s 89 and 90 last Friday night stumbled upon the 37,500 karat stone. 1. __ 2. __ 3. 4. Written by Paul Adams for Teach-This.com ©2012 3
  • 4. TEACH-THIS.COM Exercise 3 Passive Voice Dialogue Complete the sentences using the passive voice and then practice the dialogues with your partner. Dialogue 1 Noi: The diamond that (find) last week (sell) ________ a businessman from Dubai. Por: Yeah, a huge sum of money (pay) to the Nakhon Phanom Province authorities. Noi: I heard the guy who found it (make) crazy by his fame. Por: That‟s a shame, a discovery like that should be celebrated. Dialogue 2 Buakaw: Did you watch the Man United vs Barcelona match last night? Four goals (score) by both teams. Yodsenklai: Really? I heard that Rooney (send) off for foul play. Buakaw: Yes, but a new system of play (use) . Yodsenklai: At the end of the day, a better game (play) by Man United. Dialogue 3 Sid: Japan (hit) by a 9.1 earthquake yesterday and a large tsunami (generate) . Kim: Ten cities (affect) and communications (disrupt) . Sid: 50,000 residents (evacuate) within four hours of being alerted. Kim: But five evacuation centres (destroy) . The road (ruin) ____ making evacuation difficult. Written by Paul Adams for Teach-This.com ©2012 4
  • 5. Answer key Exercise 1 2. The car was driven by the woman. 3. The story was written by the reporter. 4. Japan was hit by the earthquake. Exercise 2 - Possible Answers Passive sentences The largest recorded diamond ever discovered was unearthed beneath the streets of lower Sukhumvit, Bangkok last week. According to witnesses, the stone was found by Mr Supakorn, of Nakhon Phanom province. The head office of Supakorn‟s company was inundated with friends and family wanting to know more about the precious stone. The stone was reported to have been purchased by an unknown buyer from Dubai, going by the name of „Mr. T‟. After collecting the precious stone from Mr Supakorn, a private jet was chartered to fly Mr. T, back to Dubai. Exercise 3 Dialogue 1 Noi: The diamond that was found last week was sold to a businessman from Dubai. Por: Yeah, a huge sum of money was paid to the Nakhon Phanom Province authorities. Noi: I heard the guy who found it was made crazy by his fame. Por: That's a shame, a discovery like that should be celebrated. Dialogue 2: Buakaw: Did you watch the Man United vs Barcelona match last night? Four goals were scored by both teams. Yodsenklai: Really? I heard that Rooney was sent off for foul play. Buakaw: Yes, but a new system of pay was used. Yodsenklai: At the end of the day, a better game was played by Man United. Dialogue 3: Sid: Japan was hit by a 9.1 earthquake yesterday and a large tsunami was generated. Kim: Ten cities were affected and communications were disrupted. Sid: 50,000 residents were evacuated within four hours of being alerted. Kim: But five evacuation centers were destroyed. The road was ruined making evacuation difficult. 5