Toefl (Passive voice)

Use of Passive

Passive voice is used when the focus is on the action. It is not important or not known, however, 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. I do not know, however, who did it.

Sometimes a statement in passive is more polite than active voice, as the following example shows:

Example: A mistake was made.

In this case, I focus on the fact that a mistake was made, but I do not blame anyone (e.g. You have made a mistake.).

Form of Passive

Subject + finite form of to be + Past Participle (3rd column of irregular verbs)

Example: A letter was written.

When rewriting active sentences in passive voice, note the following:

  • the object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence
  • the finite form of the verb is changed (to be + past participle)
  • the subject of the active sentence becomes the object of the passive sentence (or is dropped)

Examples of Passive Level 2

Tense Subject Verb Object
Simple Present Active: Rita writes a letter.
Passive: A letter is written by Rita.
Simple Past Active: Rita wrote a letter.
Passive: A letter was written by Rita.
Present Perfect Active: Rita has written a letter.
Passive: A letter has been written by Rita.
Future I Active: Rita will write a letter.
Passive: A letter will be written by Rita.
Hilfsverben Active: Rita can write a letter.
Passive: A letter can be written by Rita.

Examples of Passive Level 4

Tense Subject Verb Object
Present Progressive Active: Rita is writing a letter.
Passive: A letter is being written by Rita.
Past Progressive Active: Rita was writing a letter.
Passive: A letter was being written by Rita.
Past Perfect <

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