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Passive voice is formed in English with the help of the auxiliary be and the past participle of the verb (or the third form of the verb):
Subject (noun/pronoun) + Be + Verb3: The letter was written yesterday.
The auxiliary be gives the tense of the passive, as it is the only part of the construction that changes:
Present tense: The letter is written today.
Present perfect: The letter has been written recently.
Past tense: The letter was written yesterday.
Past perfect: The letter had been written by 3 oclock.
Future simple: The letter will be written soon.
Future perfect: The letter will have been written.
Future in the past: The letter would be written the next day, he told me.
Although some grammarians accept, theoretically at least, the progressive aspect in all tenses, the most commonly used progressive tenses are present and past:
Present progressive: The letter is being written now.
Past progressive: The letter was being written when I asked about it.
The passive voice is very important in English as it replaces the indefinite or reflexive pronouns in other languages: She is said to be very attractive (Se spune ca e foarte draguta).
In an active sentence the subject performs the action of the predicate which influences the direct/indirect object. In a passive sentence, the subject is the recipient of the action of the predicate. The real doer of the action is the by agent (the former subject in the active sentence). Hence a sentence that does not contain a direct/indirect object cannot be changed into a passive one.
He mended the coffee maker.
S + V + DO.
The coffee maker was mended (by him).
S + be + V3 ± by agent.
The passive voice is used:
When the action of the predicate is more important than the subject: The clothes have been washed.
When the doer of the action is not known, implied, unimportant or a long phrase (they, somebody, etc.):
Our dog was hit (we dont know who did it).
The letter has been posted (by the post office).
The windows were opened and the house aired (I dont know who did it but Im not really interested to know, as far as everything is ok).
Mary was told the real version of the story by all the people she met that day.
When the subject does not want to take responsibility: All redundant workers will be fired at the end of the month.
To avoid a change of subject in a sentence: No sooner had the Primer Minister got into the airport than he was asked a lot of questions by the reporters.
In notices and official reports: All clothes should be left in the cloakroom.
Verbs with two objects like give, buy, award can have two passive forms, with both objects becoming subjects in the passive construction:
Active → I gave mother the bunch of flowers.
Passive → a) Mother was given the bunch of flowers.
b) The bunch of flowers was given to mother. (A preposition is usually added before the indirect object, either to or for.)
Not all verbs are used in the passive. Thus intransitive verbs (not followed by a direct object: go, arrive, die, etc.): *He was died at 4 oclock yesterday.
Some verbs like suggest and explain cannot change the indirect object to subject: *He was suggested another solution.
Some verbs can form a special construction we the infinitive, such as make, see, hear, help. In the active voice we use the short infinitive and in the passive the long infinitive:
I heard her sing a new song.
She was heard to sing a new song.
Infinitive can be made passive with the help of (to) be in front of the past participle: The roof should be mended before autumn comes.
Reporting verbs (e.g. claim, mention, request, point out, think, rumour, believe) are also used in passive sentences for impersonal statements: It is believed that the murderer has left town.
Present and perfect participle (V-ing, Having + V3) are also used in the passive after certain verbs that are normally followed by ing forms, when the meaning is because, or as the subject of the sentence:
He denies having stolen the jewellery (perfect participle after deny).
Being there all the time, he could tell us what had happened (present participle meaning because).
Being laughed at by your fellow workers is not so easily bearable (present participle as subject).
Elementary and intermediate
Put the verbs in brackets in the passive voice in the tense suggested:
This part of the museum (rarely visit). (Present)
Her luggage (lose) in the wreckage. (Past)
The news widely (hear) by now. (Present Perfect)
The Second World War broke when
The table (lay) before they got into the house. (Past perfect)
You (announce) as soon as the results (known). (Future, present)
The house (break into) while they were away. (Past)
Any news (hear) from your brother so far? (Present perfect)
The thieves still (search) everywhere in the region. (Present progressive)
Nothing (know) about the missing child. - (Present)
The twin towers (hit) by suicide bombers and everybody (shock). (Past, past)
What he has said never (forget). (Future)
He promised the book (finish) by the end of this year. (Future perfect)
The dog couldnt (find), all the tracks (blot out) by the recent rain. - (Infinitive, perfect participle)
The champion never (beat) before his last match. (Past perfect)
The book (put) on the shelf. (Past)
What (do) about the traffic in this part of the town? (Present perfect)
Not a whisper (hear) before the news quickly (spread). (Past perfect, past)
The bank already (shut) when they got there. (Past perfect)
The teachers questions (answer)? (Present perfect)
The houses in this neighbourhood (do up) when I moved here. (Past perfect)
Nothing should (tell) about the surprise. (Perfect infinitive)
A new medicine (discover) by the French scientists. (Present perfect)
The clothes must (leave) at the cloakroom. - (Infinitive)
The test must (write) in ink, not in pencil. (Perfect infinitive)
Put the following sentences into the passive voice; choose the personal subject.
He told me the news.
Mother will show me the present for Fathers birthday.
He promised her a new car.
The company has paid the workers higher wages.
The policeman will tell you everything about the accident.
The hostess allowed her sons friends another slice of cake.
They refused me a visa to
The interviewer usually asks the applicant a few questions about the work experience.
They offered her a new job but she didnt want to part with her old fellow workers.
The nanny had read the little boy a short fairy tale before he went to bed.
The Council requested the inhabitants to clean the pavements outside their houses.
They have written to us about their journey and sent a picture postcard.
The headmaster asked the teachers to try and understand the troublesome pupils.
He was so happy because they have made him the captain of the football team.
The landlord will have shown the flat to the tenant-to-be by 5 oclock this afternoon.
Thomas still denies her wife the right to find herself a decent job.
The officer ordered the soldiers to turn off the light in the barracks by ten oclock p.m.
She promised she would teach him a lesson.
All the people I know recommended me another spa for my disease.
Sue gave him the right answer.
Put the following sentences into the passive voice.
1. They must look into this difficult matter.
Everybody speaks well of my girlfriend.
The maid turns the lights off every night.
You have to work for fame.
I told her never to behave like this again.
She promised her father to be a good girl.
It is time they told us the truth.
Nobody has slept in this bed since you last visited us.
Aunt Aggie usually looks after her little nephews.
The teacher promised her pupils a trip to the mountains if they worked well.
What should we do about this?
What did she tell you about her results?
Nobody has cleaned the house.
Rude comments upset everybody.
People watch tennis games gladly.
Somebody has left the windows opened and the room is full of flies.
Nobody will answer your question at once.
She had a terrible accident because a car ran over her.
Your friends will laugh at you if you dress like this.
They left the children out to play in the garden.
Put the following sentences into the passive voice, choosing the personal subject. Use more passives in a sentence and the by agent, where possible and necessary.
Somebody has picked all the mushrooms from this meadow.
Did anybody tell him the secret?
They will take him to the police station.
An unknown person tampered with the lock of the house.
Somebody broke into the house and stole all the jewellery.
They will have bought a new car before the summer holiday.
People should listen to children more carefully as they say interesting things sometimes.
They had shaken the carpets and washed the floor before they ushered the guests in.
No one can answer his stupid question.
Somebody has moved the armchair from the corner and opened the windows.
The gangsters kidnapped the child and his mother and asked for a big ransom.
Somebody left a motorbike in the street and it caused an accident.
Her sister has just won the big prize.
The storm sank many ships and a lot of people lost their lives.
Has anybody taken the book from the table?
You mustnt throw away unrepaired things; they may come in useful.
Nobody has ever spoken to Mary like that and this has driven her mad.
Men used to wear their coats very long.
They will give me the report at the end of the term.
The fire had destroyed the whole collection of modern paintings.
Put the following sentences into the passive voice, choosing the personal subject. Use more passives in a sentence and the by agent, where possible and necessary.
A strong gust of wind capsized the little boat.
They finished the building of the bank earlier than they had promised the beneficiary.
Monkeys were throwing with coconuts to the visitors.
Someone has painted the door green.
They wrote the news in bold type.
The neighbour is mending the fence.
I have washed up and dried the crockery.
They sent invitations to the party to all their friends.
People were carrying suitcases to the luggage room.
His mother gave him a computer for his birthday.
They bought computer games for their younger brothers.
They ate up all the ice cream from the fridge.
Your father said that he mended that all the shoes in the house.
They photographed all the members of the team.
He hates people laughing at him.
Do you intend them to believe your story?
The manager turned my offer down flat.
Did they open the bottle with a corkscrew?
Have they finished all their tasks?
You must take your dress in; its too large for you.
Put the following into the passive voice.
Somebody must have written this nonsense on the blackboard while the teacher was out.
Did the blow hurt you?
Mother treated my friends to some cakes.
Dont let the others mock at you.
The pianist played the sonata skilfully.
Nobody can beat my cousin at golf.
Doctors had to operate on my mother so they had taken her to hospital.
Hadnt they given you the instructions of this game?
They didnt move a thing until the master of the house came.
I can assure you nobody will know the secret.
Somebody will take the visitors round the town and show them the sights.
A huge heap of snow broke the bridge in two.
The players can aim targets from a great distance.
You cannot drive a car if somebody hasnt filled it with gasoline.
Your father is sure to ask you some questions about your exam.
Let them know if there is anything they should carry out.
They cant hunt game in this forest without a permit.
Well have to write it again.
She would like someone to invite her to the theatre.
People say elephants have a formidable memory.
Rewrite the sentences using the passive form of the verbs in italics.
He gave up the writing of the paper after three hours of thinking.
The geography teacher pointed out the town on the map.
Nobody brought up the problem of poverty in rural areas at the meeting.
They should look into the evidence to find out the culprit.
He behaved like that because his parents brought him up very strictly.
They had to put off the wedding, as the bridegroom didnt show up.
The police were looking everywhere for fingerprints.
Dont answer back when your mother speaks to you.
Mary turned down his proposal of marriage.
The employees must account for every missing paper.
Someone hasnt stuck this notice on the wall very firmly.
The dentist pulled out all his bad teeth.
The new management of the company will lay off all the redundant workers.
Dont cross a busy street without looking carefully, as a car might knock you down.
If this is your first offence they can let you off.
Somebody picked up the five-pound note I dropped here half an hour ago.
They say they will call off tomorrows match.
Children must keep off the grass if you want a tidy garden.
They had taken away the food before we could have a chance to choose more.
My next door neighbours have put up a new TV aerial.
Another passive construction with two variants is:
Subject + Verb (of the type say, think, believe, expect, etc.) + Noun Clause Object.
They believe that he is the best tennis player in town.
It is believed that he is the best tennis player in town.
He is believed to be the best tennis player in town
In the second construction the verb in the noun clause is in the infinitive, which can have the following forms:
He is believed to be leaving the town next Monday (progressive infinitive or present infinitive when the actions of the two verbs believe and leave are at the same time or the latter with future reference).
He is believed to have left the town a week ago (perfect infinitive when the action of the infinitive has a previous time reference).
She is believed to have been writing the feature articles of the local magazine (perfect infinitive progressive anterior action in progress).
Rewrite the sentences in an alternative passive form, beginning the sentences with the words in italics.
It is said that she is a good pianist.
She is said to be a good pianist.
It is thought that they won all the matches.
They are thought to have won all the matches.
It is considered that the new factory is very polluting.
It was proved that he had been there before the guests arrived.
It is understood that the new drug will do a lot of good to the diseased.
It was claimed that he had been driving at high speed.
It is expected that the inflation will go up in the next half year.
It is believed that the competitors are having a hard time.
It was alleged that the Prime Minister had known everything about that nasty drug affair.
It is reported that hundreds of strikers were gathered in front of the Town Hall.
It is said that the film won at least three Oscars.
It is suspected that he murdered his wife.
It is known that eating sweets helps your teeth decay.
It is said that the foreign professor gives interesting lectures.
It is supposed that John wrote that slanderous article in the local paper.
It was thought that the plane had crashed due to a faulty engine.
It is believed that the Government will impose new taxes on the population income.
It was thought that the climbers had left the cabin early in the morning and never come back.
It is said that she is the most beautiful girl in the class.
It is presumed that Mary and James are living together in
It is believed that the new cars were made with a lower cost.
It is claimed that the mechanic did not repair the engine properly.
It is said that the new investors are looking for cheap bargains.
It is reported that the police have found the escaped convicts.
It was thought that the fire had destroyed the art collection of the town museum.
Rewrite the sentences in an alternative passive form, beginning the sentences with the words in italics.
It is claimed that the computer does 40% of the accountants work.
It is supposed that the weather will improve.
It is said that his parents died in a car accident.
It is believed that his best friend let him down.
It is rumoured that the President has been taken ill with flu.
It was thought that they had built a huge house with stolen money.
It is alleged that the high officials in this company are corrupt.
It is claimed that the ship was arrested in an Asian port.
It is believed that she married to my neighbour for his money.
It is thought that the Pyramids are five thousand years old.
It is said that other animals are extinct in the tropical areas.
It was supposed that the hitchhikers were all of Arab nationality.
It is expected that all visitors will sign in the book of honour.
It is considered that the found artefacts are of prehistoric origin.
It is rumoured that they are digging at the back of their house to find a buried treasure.
It is thought that he reads one book everyday.
It is alleged that the management has fired half of the staff.
It is expected that the team will win all the future matches.
It is thought that they are learning Chinese.
It was reported that new deposits of oil had been discovered in the
It is considered that the medical team has done the most daring operation.
It was proved that Sue had spread the horrible lie about her sister-in-law.
It was understood that both sisters had crossed the Channel on a raft.
It is believed that Mark is going to the South Pole.
Philip was hit with a stone and lost conscious (somebody did it on purpose).
Put a suitable preposition in each blank space.
The small shop was packed people buying presents for Christmas.
The door to the secret corridor was concealed false woodwork.
The VAT is included the prices in all our department stores.
The whole town was decorated flags and fir branches in honour of the foreign guests.
One football player was badly wounded a flying bottle.
All the china in the showcase had been smashed a hammer by the enraged husband.
The train to the seaside resort was crammed holidaymakers.
The partridge was stuffed eggs, mushrooms and vegetables.
All the people present at the party were later involved the investigation.
It was a real tragedy when our Siamese cat was run over a car.
The whole area was surrounded a nice line of firtrees.
He included all the new questions the interview.
The village was inhabited people of different ethnicity.
He got injured when he was struck a bit of glass from the windshield.
Before Christmas all the streets were covered snow.
The centre was thronged angry strikers asking for higher salaries.
The new school was built money from the World Bank.
The room was filled merry people celebrating Johns success.
Mary was struck a heavy object when walking her dog in the park last night.
After the terrible flood the floor of the house was covered water and mud.
They were of course all intending to be surprised; but
their astonishment was beyond their expectation; and on the part of Mrs. Bennet
and Kitty, though she was perfectly unknown to them, even inferior to what
Rewrite the following sentences in the passive. The subject of the active sentence can be omitted.
They are questioning Tom at the police station.
They shouldnt open the box before Christmas.
People told him not to go out at night.
Somebody was writing the notice when they burst into the room.
The notice ..
You must tidy your room whenever necessary.
They should teach their son a lesson.
Their son .
People are applauding the singer warmly.
The singer ..
Someone will bring you the lost letter.
They dont allow shouting in the library.
He should pay all his debts before going abroad.
All the debts
Mother told off the children when they made a mess on the floor.
More than a million people have watched this film.
We expect students not to cheat during the exams.
14. You mustnt pour water on this substance.
Someone will announce you if there is any change in the programme.
They invaded the country with all their armed forces.
The country .
He wrote the latest novel in less than a year.
The latest .
Somebody has taken my coat from the peg.
My coat ..
The manager has raised the wages of the hard working workers.
The wages .
Someone had turned the light on before we got to the house.
They invited too many people to the house warming party.
We asked John to tell us what had happened at the theatre.
He spilt coffee all over the carpet.
They locked the house for the holiday.
.that all the people were cheated by that shrewd evildoer.
.that they have been given the sack by the new management of the company.
.some of the passengers on the plane were fined for bad behaviour.
.the climate has been changed by the developed industrial countries.
.the present MP was elected by a hairs breadth.
.thousands of people were told to gather in the big square to protest against the new traffic laws.
.to be the best surgeon in our town.
.to have been the author of the pamphlet.
.a lot of interesting jobs will be created for the computer workers.
that many animals of the
.to have been digging a deep shaft to find oil.
.to know his peoples history very well.
.to have composed the soundtrack of the latest horror film.
.that they have run away with all the companys money.
.to be a mole in the British Intelligence Service.
.a lot of game had been killed before they banned hunting.
.to be a new bus line running through the centre.
.to be the best Mayor the town has ever had.
the have lied to a lot of gullible ladies.
This car hasnt been used (use) for at least two years.
They (lead) astray by that stupid guide before they realised the mistake.
The children (assure) they (buy) presents if they got good marks.
Our flat (do up) at the moment so we live with my parents-in-law.
The teacher promised the pupils their papers (check) as accurately as possible.
It is said the plane (crash) above a high range of mountains and nobody (find) alive.
The agreement had to (draw up) in front of all members of the meeting.
Richard complained that he always (pick on) by the geography teacher.
Ann had little idea where her daughter was, her notice (take away) from the table.
The new Daewoo cars (make) at the rate of twenty per month.
How can the results (bring about) by all the candidates?
The gold coins (bury) before anyone (tell) about them.
The wounded (take) to hospital as soon as a cease-fire (declare).
Willie always (tell off) for his brothers mistakes.
The Chairman announced that the interests (raise) by the end of this year.
They couldnt come on time as they (hold up) at the Customs and their papers (check).
No one had thought that to dine there, tables should (book) in advance.
Does he know he (pay) when the job (finish)?
It was a surprise when she refused the position she (offer) by her boss.
The children did the task after they (show) how.
Use the correct tenses and passive forms of the verbs in brackets.
For one instant, I 1. thought (think) the unhappy man, entangled with the poulp, 2. .(tear) from its powerful suction. Seven of the eight arms 3. ..(cut off). One only 4. .(wriggle) in the air, brandishing the victim like a feather. But just as Captain Nemo and his lieutenant 5. (throw) themselves on it, the animal 6. .(eject) a stream of black liquid. We 7. .(blind) with it. When the cloud 8. ..(disperse), the cuttle-fish 9. ..(disappear), and my unfortunate countryman with it. Ten or twelve poulps now 10. ..(invade) the platform and sides of the Nautilus. We 11. .(roll) pell-mell into the midst of this nest of serpents, that 12. ..(wriggle) on the platform in the waves of blood and ink. It 13. ..(seem) as though these slimy tentacles 14. ..(spring up) like the hydras heads. Ned Lands harpoon, at each stroke, 15. (plunge) into the staring eyes of the cuttle-fish. But my bold companion suddenly 16. (overturn) by the tentacles of a monster he 17. .(not be able) to avoid.
Ah! How my heart 18. (beat) with emotion and horror! The formidable beak of a cuttle-fish 19. .(be) open over Ned Land. The unhappy man 20. .(cut) in two. I 21. ..(rush) to his succour. But Captain Nemo 22. ..(be) before me; his axe 23. ..(disappear) between the two enormous jaws, and, miraculously saved, the Canadian, rising, 24. (plunge) his harpoon deep into the triple heart of the poulp.
I 25. ..(owe) myself this revenge! 26. ..(say) the Captain to the Canadian.
Ned 27. (bow) without replying. The combat 28. ..(last) a quarter of an hour. The monsters vanquished and mutilated, 29. ..(leave) us at last, and 30. ..(disappear) under the waves. Captain Nemo, 31. ..(cover) with blood, and nearly exhausted, 32. ..(gaze) upon the sea that 33. (swallow up) one of his companions, and great tears 34. ..(gather) in his eyes. (Jules Verne: The Devil Fish)
A lot of bicycles have been being bought lately. (have been bought)
As we got nearer the house, we saw that the lock had being tampered with.
Jim was been given the news by his mother.
I expect the book will have been printed by now.
He suggested been told everything about his son.
While I was walking my dog had been disappeared.
The museum of modern art has been opened for three weeks.
My brother is been interviewed to get that new job.
The packets are been put into boxes and then delivered.
I was being advised not to go there alone.
The teacher agreed and a new map has been put on the wall.
The ship was sunk in the storm.
They were been elected leaders of the group.
I had being handed a note by the headmaster.
He was considered a success by his family.
They cannot put up with your noise any longer. TOLERATE
The Board called off the meeting, as not all the members were present. CANCEL
They put off the match because of the heavy rain. POSTPONE
They looked for weapons all over the plane. SEARCH
Aunt Aggie always takes care of her nieces. LOOK
They insist that you keep to the rules. BREAK
Why dont you call someone to see to your radio set? REPAIR
They spent a lot of money when they hired a team to do up their house. PAINT
Joan usually takes in her husbands trousers if they are too large. ALTER
Although I work slowly I get my job done eventually. FINISH
Complete the blanks in the sentences below with the following verbs in the correct passive forms. Use each verb once only: take, build, sing, advise, delay, start, question, keep, cut down, catch, close, expect, pull down, burn, discover, renew, mend, tell, change, find, fine, and pay.
All flights from Otopeni have been delayed because of bad weather.
Why didnt you come down the High Street? .the road ?
John hundreds of times before not to do it and he still did it.
Is your telephone number the same or it ?
All the shops in this town before eight in the evening.
The old school and a new one in a couple of years.
The pupils guilty of breaking the window . now by the headmaster.
Dogs must on a lead while walking in the street with their masters.
Their house down by a terrible fire two years ago while they were on holiday.
All the man involved in the bank robbery shortly after the theft.
My neighbour to hospital after her car collided with a lorry.
The match before all the players could get to the playground.
The rock song beautifully by an unknown band that had come from the other town.
He to draw up another will as things have changed, now hes got married for the second time.
The stolen paintings although there is a great reward for whoever knows anything about them.
My father for high speed and got a ticket that has to tomorrow.
A new wreck on the seabed not far from the shore of my village. Everybody was very surprised.
All the trees in our street as they had become a public menace for the traffic.
We had to wait for a while until our passports
It that he will give a lecture on the environment protection against chemical pollution.
My car is being repaired so Im going by bus this week.
She with a knife found on the kitchen table.
The accident by the icy road and high speed.
Fish here with chips and salad.
Questions about the accident afterwards.
My car is not to .by anyone.
Rare books shall not out of the library.
These instructions should and it wouldnt have happened that.
Something must about poor people in our town.
Your problem at the moment by the manager.
Traffic wardens to take care of the car parks.
The stolen jewels in the deserted house.
A new problem before they set out for the airport.
The talks as no agreement at the present meeting.
She the position of supervisor but refused motivating that a lot of responsibility
New projects to build the civic centre of the city.
The test by all candidates as it is very easy.
The bus with people coming from the stadium so he couldnt get on.
My sweater by mother last holiday.
The pirates on the island without any food or water.
It is said he was the most notorious caper of all times. They say he was the most notorious caper of all times.
Who was this picture painted by?
He lets himself be laughed at by people.
The door had been locked so the house was difficult to be broken into.
Your claim is being dealt with at the moment.
Smoking isnt allowed in any public place in our town.
Jacks van had been stolen and never found.
I resent being asked about my love affairs.
Nobody is expected to know the results of the test until too weeks have passed.
My old uncle cant be understood when he does queer things.
Nothing can be told about how our manager will react at the bad news.
Mary is allowed to bring her dog in here.
The deal has been agreed on and everybody is satisfied with it.
Id love to be given the opportunity of travelling around the world.
Susan is expected to finish her task by tomorrow afternoon at the latest.
He was left behind because of his bad wound.
Using dictionaries is forbidden in entrance examinations.
Nothing can be done about this tragedy except to help people with some money and friendly support.
robbed of all their money and valuable belongings when hitchhiking in
Who was the money stolen by?
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