–        We use the passive voice when we want to focus on the object or receiver of the action

–        We use the passive voice when we do not know who is performing the action

–        We use “by” if the agent or the person performing the action is important

–        It is often used in business

–        We use the passive voice only with verbs that take an object

–        An active voice is used when the action performed is made by the subject

–        The passive voice is often used in newspaper reports


The object of the active sentence becomes the subject in the passive sentence

The subject of the active sentence becomes the object in the passive sentence or is left out.

Example:  ACTIVE : Ann eats an apple – PASSIVE : An apple is eaten by Ann


  • The Passive is formed: Passive Subject + To Be + Past Particple

The house was built in 1989.


We can form the passive in any tense. In fact, conjugation of verbs in the passive tense is rather easy, as the main verb is always in past participle form and the auxiliary verb is always be. To form the required tense, we conjugate the auxiliary verb. So, for example:

  • present simple: It is made
  • present continuous: It is being made
  • present perfect: It has been made


Passive Voice Structure



          Time Reference

They make Fords in Cologne.

Fords are made in Cologne.

Present Simple

Susan is cooking dinner.

Dinner is being cooked by Susan

            Present Continuous

James Joyce wrote “Dubliners”.

“Dubliners” was written by

James Joyces.

                       Past Simple

They were painting the house

when I arrived.

The house was being painted

when I  arrived.

                 Past Continuous

They have produced over 20


in the past two years.

Over 20 models have been produced in the past two years.

                   Present Perfect

They are going to build a new

factory in Portland.

A new factory is going to be

built in Portland.

Future Intention with    Going to

I will finish it tomorrow.

It will be finished tomorrow.

                     Future Simple


Example of a Newspaper article:


Local Election Results Are Now In

 Local election results have now been published. The office of Mayor has been won once again by Lori Simpson and the role of Council Head has been taken this time by Aidan Scrud. Several initiatives were decided by the voters:


  • A new school will be built to house the ever-increasing number of children in our area.
  • Several new business licenses were granted.
  • A decision was made to fix the town clock.
  • Taxes were held at their current rates.
  • All dogs must now be licensed.
  • The lamps around the lake will be replaced by brighter ones.
  • Aerial antennas will no longer be allowed as they are deemed an eyesore.
  • Invitations to be come sister cities will be sent to Cheddar, England and to Dijon, France.

–        change simple active sentences into passive ones:

 1)     Bob rescued two dogs.

2)     Silvia has learned the lesson.

3)     The boys lost the balls.

4)     Maria washed the floors.

5)     The cat drank all the milk.

6)     What caused the accident?

7)     Has anyone cleaned the car yet?

8)     Did Peter order pizza for dinner?


–        Determine whether the sentences are written in Active or Passive

  1. Chris teaches English.
  2. These oranges are produced in Florida.
  3. Houses have been built.
  4. He was given a pencil.
  5. The keys were lost.
  6. This room has been cleaned.
  7. Comics are read by her.
  8. The flowers have been watered.


Grammar Lesson – Active and Passive Voice Explained


An easy song with the passive tense