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Passive Voice, verbs with two objects in the passive,

the passive with by and with, stative passive, passive structure.


Passive Voice.

Form I. We form passive verbs with the different tenses of be (e.g. is, was, is being, have been) + Past Participle.

1). Present Simple (am/are/is + past participle): The office is locked every evening.

2). Present Continuous (am/are/ is + being + past participle): The house is being painted at the moment.

3). Past Simple (was/were + past participle): My car was stolen last night.

4). Past Continuous (was/were + being + past participle): The bridge was being repaired last week.

5). Present Perfect Simple (have/has + been + past participle): Sarah has been invited to the party.

6). Past Perfect Simple (will + be + past participle): I thought that you had been told the news.

7). Future Simple (will + be + past participle): The letter will be posted tomorrow.

8). Future Perfect Simple (will + have been + + past participle): The texts will have been typed by 3 o’clock.

9). Perfect Continuous passives are very uncommon.

Form II. The rules for choosing tenses in the passive are the same as in the active. For example, to talk about something that is in progress now, we use the Present Continuous: The house is being painted at the moment.

We often use the passive when we do not know who or what does something: My car was stolen last night (I do not know who stole the car). We also use the passive when we are not interested in who or what does something: The factory was painted last year. / Sarah has been invited to the party. In these sentences we are interested in the factory and Sarah, not who painted the factory, or who invited Sarah.

We also use the passive when we do not want to say who or what does something. Compare: I made a mistake (active). ~ A mistake was made (passive).


Verbs with two objects in the passive. Some verbs (e.g. give) can have two objects: Someone gave Jimmy the money (the two objects are Jimmy and the money). In cases like this, we can make two different passive sentences: Jimmy was given the money. ~ The money was given to Jimmy. In general, it is more usual for passive sentences to begin with the person. Other verbs which can have two objects include send, offer, show, pay, teach, promise, tell and others. Examples: I was sent a telegram. She will be told the news.

The passive with by and with.

By + agent: compare → Columbus discovered America (active). ~ America was discovered by Columbus (passive). The strong winds blew down a number of trees (active). ~ A number of trees were blown down by the strong (passive).

We sometimes use the subject of an active sentence (e.g. Columbus, the strong winds) as “the agent” in a passive sentence. When this happens, we use by to introduce the agent in the passive. We only use by + agent when it is important to say who or what is responsible for something.

With + instrument. → We use with to talk about an instrument which is used by the agent to do something. Compare: I was hit with an umbrella. I was hit by an old lady.

With + material. → We also use with to talk about materials or ingredients, examples: The room was filled with smoke. Irish coffee is made with whisky.


Stative passive. Examples: a). I locked the door five minutes ago. b). The door was locked by me five minutes ago. c). Now the door is locked. d). Ann broke the window. e). The window was broken by Ann. f). Now the window is broken.

The passive form nay be used to describe an existing situation or state, as in (c) and (f). No action is taking place. The action happened before. There is no “by phrase”. The past participle function as an adjective. When the passive form expresses an exiting state rather than an action, it is called the “stative passive”.


Passive structure.

Passive tense Structure Example
simple present am (are, is) + past participle English is spoken here.
present progressive am (are, is) being + past participle Excuse the mess: the house is being painted.
simple past was (were) + past participle I wasn’t invited, but I went.
past progressive was (were) being + past p. I felt I was being watched.
present perfect have (has) been + past p. Has Mary been told?
past perfect had been + past participle I knew I had been forgotten.
will future will be + past participle You’ll be told soon.
future prefect will have been + past participle Everything will have been done by Tuesday.
going to future am (are, is) going to be + p.p. Who’s going to be invited?


Examples of passive infinitives: (to) be told; (to) have been taken. Examples of passive –ing forms: being told; having been taken. Future progressive passives (will be being + pp) and perfect progressive passives (e.g has been being + pp) are unusual. Two-word verbs can have passive forms (e.g. The meeting has been put off).


The subject of a passive verb corresponds to the object of an active verb.


Subject Subject

Passive: This house was built in 1486. German is spoken in Australia.
Active: They built this house in 1486. Australians speak German  

Object Object


With a passive, we can use by + noun if we need to say who does the action, example: This house was built in 1486 by Sir John Latton.





Task 1. Find the correct answer.

1). The day before yesterday we (invited) to the restaurant by John Jenkins (A. are invited. B. were invited. C. invite). 2). Look! The bridge (repair) (A. is being repaired. B. is been repaired. C. has being repaired). 3). The letter and the parcel (post) tomorrow (A. will be post. B. will have been posted. C. will be posted). 4). Margaret (know) to be a very industrious person (A. has been known. B. is known. C. is been known). 5). In Greece the Olympic Games (hold) once in four years (A. were held. B. are being held. C. are held). 6). The problem (study) for three years, but they haven’t got any results (A. has been studied. B. has being studied. C. was studied). 7). This book (republish) by the end of September (A. would been republished. B. will have been republished. C. will been republished). 8). The doctor said that Misha’s leg (X-rayed) the following day (A. will be X-rayed. B. would be X-rayed. C. will have been X-rayed). 9). A police car came when the injured man (carry off) the road (A. was being carried off. B. was been carrying off. C. has been carried off). 10). I (bear) in a small Russian town not far from Samara (A. was borne. B. am born. C. was born). 11). Ivan phoned us and asked if our luggage … (A. was already being packed. B. had already been packed. C. was packed). 12). What a pity, Oleg won’t come. He … about the meeting beforehand (A. should have been told. B. should be told. C. should been told). 13). Over 57 million students … in American schools which range from kindergartens to high schools (A. were enrolled. B. are enrolled. C. has been enrolled). 14). America’s first college, Harvard, … in Massachusetts in 1636 (A. is being founded. B. had been founded. C. was founded). 15). The story of the first Thanksgiving feast … among the Americans (A. is well-known. B. have been well-known. C. would have been well-known). 16). The students … on the Industrial Revolution at the end of the term (A. will be tested. B. are being tested. C. will have been tested). 17). Now London’s councilmen … to approve the erection of a life-size statue of Charlie Chaplin in the costume that the British-born Comedian made in his films (A. being asked. B. asked. C. are being asked). 18). Mr.White was sure that prisoners of conscience … in at least 70 countries (A. are being held. B. were being held. C. being held). 19). In more than 200 years the USA Constitution … 26 times (A. is amended. B. is being amended. C. has been amended). 20). The bridge … by tomorrow morning (A. will have been reconstructed. B. is being reconstructed. C. will be reconstructed). 21). It was announced that the international treaty against weather warfare … and had gone into effect (A. would have been ratified. B. is ratified. C. had been ratified).


Task 2. Open the brackets.

The Tower of London (1. build) by William the Conqueror in 1078 as a castle and palace. Since that time it (2. expand) to its present size, and (3. use) as an armoury, a zoo, a royal mint, a prison, and a museum. At the time when it was a orison a lot of people (4. lock) in the Tower for their religious beliefs or suspected treason. Anne Boleyn, Sir Walter Raleigh and Elizabeth the First (5. shut up) there, too. Spies (6. imprison) in the Tower during both World Wars. Some of the prisoners (7. allow) to walk in the grounds, live in comfortable rooms and receive visitors. Many convicted (8. publicly execute) on Tower Hill. They (9. behead) with the block and axe, which (10. keep) and (11. show) in the Tower Armoury now. The Jewel House (12. situate) at the Tower. The collection of the Crown Jewels (13. keep) in it. Saint Edward’s Crown, the Imperial State Crown, and the royal sceptre (14. guard) there. Saint Edward’s Crown (15. use) for the coronation ceremonies. 3000 precious jewels (16. contain) in the Imperial State Crown. In 1671 a daring attempt (17. make) to steal the Crown Jewels by a man named Captain Blood.


Task 3. Find the passive verbs in this text. What tenses are they?

IN DENMARK, 24 people were left hanging upside down when a roller coaster car made an unscheduled stop. The passengers were stranded 60 ft in the air for 20 minutes before firemen arrived with ladders. An official for the fairground, at Aalborg in Western Denmark, said the riders had been firmly locked in and had not been in danger. “They were given their money back,” the official said.


Task 4. Write passive sentences.

1). Chinese (speak) in Singapore. 2). The Taj Mahal (build) around 1640. 3). The new hospital (open) next year. 4). She (interview) now. 5). I realized I (follow). 6). (you invite) to Andy’s party? 7). He found that all his money (steal). 8). These computers (make) in Korea. 9). Passengers (ask) not to speak to the driver. 10). Sorry about the noise – the road (mend). 11). The village church (burn down) last year. 12). A Roman pavement (just find) under Oxford Street.


Task 5. Make the sentences passive. Use by…only if it is necessary to say who does/did the action.

1). Shakespeare wrote ”Hamlet”. 2). They are repairing your car now. 3). People in Chile speak Spanish. 4). My mother made this ring. 5). Electricity drives this car. 6). Somebody will tell you where to go. 7). The most ministers approved this decision. 8). Has anybody asked Peter? 9). Liverpool beat Manchester 3 – 0 yesterday. 10). The Chinese invented paper. 11). They don’t sell stamps in bookshops. 12). The directors are still considering your application.

Date: 2014-12-28; view: 1518

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