Use of Passive
- We use passive voice when the focus is on the action, or the doer is not important or not known, or who or what is performing the action.
Example: The trees were planted.
In the example above, the focus is on the fact that The trees were planted. 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, the focus is on the fact that a mistake was made, but we do not blame anyone (e.g. You have made a mistake.).
- We also use
passivevoice to avoid responsibility. as the example below:
Example: The window was broken.
Even though I broke the window but I avoid responsibility by using the passive voice.
Form of Passive
Subject + finite form of to be + Past Participle (3rd column of irregular verbs)
Example: A man was killed.
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 omitted)
|Simple Present||Active:||Hiba||writes||a story|
|Passive:||A story||is written||(by Hiba.)|
|Present Continous||Active:||Hiba||is writing||a story|
|Passive:||A story||is being written||(by Hiba.)|
|Present Perfect||Active:||Hiba||has written||a story|
|Passive:||A story||has been written||(by Hiba.)|
|Present Perfect Continous||Active:||Hiba||has been writing||a story|
|Passive:||A story||has been being written||(by Hiba.)|
|Simple Past||Active:||Hiba||wrote||a story|
|Passive:||A story||was written||(by Hiba.)|
|Past Continous||Active:||Hiba||was writing||a story|
|Passive:||A story||was being written||(by Hiba.)|
|Past Perfect||Active:||Hiba||had written||a story|
|Passive:||A story||had been written||a story|
|Past Perfect Continous||Active:||Hiba||had been writing||(by Hiba.)|
|Passive:||A story||had been being written||(by Hiba.)|
|Modal Verbs||Active:||Hiba||will write|
have to write
|Passive:||A story||will be written|
must be written
have to be written
Rewriting an active sentence with two objects in passive voice means that one of the two objects becomes the subject, the other one remains an object. Which object to transform into a subject depends on what you want to put the focus on.
|subject||verb||Object 1||Object 2|
|Passive:||He||was given||abook||(by them.)|
|Passive:||A book||was given||to him||(by them.)|
As you can see in the examples, adding by them does not sound very elegant. That’s why it is usually dropped.