The Passive Voice-Unit 5(Ticket to English)-lesson

The Passive Voice


The passive of an active tense is formed by putting the verb to be into the same tense as the active verb and adding the past participle of the active verb. The subject of the active verb becomes the ‘agent’ of the passive verb. The agent is very often not mentioned. When it is mentioned it is preceded by by and placed at the end of the clause.

Active: My grandfather planted this tree.
Passive: This tree was planted by my grandfather.




1. Present Simple

He delivers the letters.

The letters are delivered.

2. Past Simple

He delivered the letters.

The letters were delivered.

3. Future Simple

He will deliver the letters.

The letters will be delivered.

4. Present Continuous

He is delivering the letters.

The letters are being delivered.

5. Past Continuous

He was delivering the letters.

The letters were being delivered.

6. Going to

He is going to deliver the letters.

The letters are going to be delivered.

7. Present Perfect

He has delivered the letters.

The letters have been delivered.

8. Past Perfect

He had delivered the letters.

The letters had been delivered.

9. Infinitive

He has to deliver the letters.

The letters have to be delivered.

10. Modals

He must deliver the letters.

The letters must be delivered.

Short answers

To make short answers: 
    a. we use the verb to be (am/is/are/was/were) for Present Simple, Past Simple, Present Continuous, Past Continuous and Going To questions.    
    b. we use the verb have (have/has/had) for Present Perfect and Past Perfect questions.      
    c. we use will for Future Simple questions.

The Passive is used:

1. when the agent (=the person who does the action) is unknown, unimportant or obvious from the context.
                 a. Jane was shot. (We don’t know who shot her.
                 b. This church was built in 1815. (Unimportant agent)
                 c. He has been arrested. (Obviously by the police)
2. to make more polite or formal statements.
                 a. The car hasn’t been cleaned. (more polite)
                 b. You haven’t cleaned the car. ( less polite)
3. when the action is more important than the agent, as in processes, instructions, events, reports, headlines, new items, and advertisements.
                e.g 30 people were killed in the earthquake.

4. to put emphasis on the agent.

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