A We form passive verbs with the different tenses of be (eg is, was, is being, have been, will be) + past participle.
am/are/is + past participle
The office is locked every evening.
am/are/is + being + past participle
The house is being painted at the moment.
was/were + past participle
My car was stolen last night.
was/were + being + past participle
The bridge was being repaired last week.
Present perfect simple:
have/has + been + past participle
Sarah has been invited to the party.
Past perfect simple:
had + been + past participle
I thought that you had been told the news.
Will + be + past participle
Sarah will be invited to the party next week.
B Compare the active and the passive sentences: Active: Someone locks the office every evening.
Passive: The office is locked every evening.
Active: Someone has invited Sarah to the party.
Passive: Sarah has been invited to the party.
Note that the object of an active verb (eg the office, Sarah) becomes the subject of a passive verb.
C The rules for choosing tenses in the passive are the same as in the active. For example, to talk about smth that is in progress now, we use the present continuous.
The house is being painted at the moment.
A We often use the passive when we do not know who or what does smth.
My car was stolen last night. (I don’t know who stole the car.)
B We also use the passive when we are not interested in who or what does smth.
The factory was painted during the war.
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.
C We also use the passive when we do not want to say who or what does smth. Compare:
Active: I madea mistake. Passive: A mistake was made.
What is being done in these pictures? Complete the sentences using the present continuous passive of these verbs: paint, feed, milk, count, repair, cut, clean.
Example: The grass is being cut.
1 The road _
2 The fence_
3 The cows_
4 The windows_
5 The cats_
6 The money_
Complete the sentences using the present perfect simple passive of these verbs: repair, paint, take out, put up, clean. Use some verbs more than once.
Example: The door has been repaired. Some new curtains have been put up.
1 The window_
2 The carpet _
3 The walls_
4 The light_
5 Some posters_
6 The old fireplace_
Complete the sentences.
(i) Use the present simple passive of the verbs in the box.
use play destroy speak export make
Example: Bread is made from wheat.
1 Football __all over the world.
2 Millions of cars __from Japan every year.
3 A compass __for showing direction.
4 How many languages __in Switzerland?
5 Millions of trees ___by pollution every year.
(ii) Use the past simple passive of the verbs in the box.
discover invent play assassinate paint build
Example: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.
1 The 1990 World Cup for soccer __in Italy.
2 When __television __?
3 The first pyramids of Egypt __around 3000 BC.
4 Penicillin __by Alexander Fleming in 1928.
5 The Mona Lisa (La Gioconda) __by Leonardo da Vinci.
(iii) Use the past continuous or past perfect passive of the verbs in the box.
not invite clean sell repair interview steal
Example: I couldn't wear my suit last Saturday. It was being cleaned.
1 When I got back to the car park, my car wasn't there. It__.
2 We couldn't use the photocopier this morning. It__.
3 By the time I arrived at the concert hall, there were no tickets left. They__.
4 We didn't go to the party on Saturday because we__.
5 The man admitted stealing the money while he __by the police.
Choose the correct form: active or passive.
A valuable painting stole/was stolen from the Central Art Gallery late last night.
The thieves entered/were enteredthe gallery through a small upstairs window.
1 Walt Disney created/was created the cartoon character Mickey Mouse.
2 This problem discussed/was discussed at the last meeting.
3 In 1964 Martin Luther King won/was won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1968 he
assassinated/was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
4 The president arrived/was arrived in Rome yesterday afternoon. Later he
interviewed/was interviewed on Italian TV.
5 Teachers have given/have been given a new pay rise by the government. The news announced/was announced earlier today.
The passive: infinitive and –ing forms
1 There is a passive infinitive form: be + past participle. We use this form after modal verbs (must, can, will, etc) and after a number of other structures (eg going to, have to, want to and would like to).
This door must be kept locked.
The job can't be done.
He's going to be interviewed next week.
The new motorway will be opened next summer.
I don't want to be disturbed.
2 There is a passive perfect infinitive form: have been + past participle. We can use this form to talk about the past.
The newspaper may have been thrown away last night.
We should have been told about the dangers.
3 There is also a passive –ing form: being + past participle.
I don't like being cheated.
He remembers being given the book.
Put these sentence into the passive (leaving out someone, they, we).
Example: Someone might steal the car. The car might be stolen.
1 Someone will clean the room.
2 They had to cut down that tree.
3 Someone should tell Sally what happened.
4 They're going to build a new hospital.
5 We can solve the problem.
6 Someone has to finish the job.
7 They may send the man to prison.
8 We must do something now.
Complete the sentences using the passive perfect infinitive.
Example: Why doesn't Kate know about the meeting? She should have been told (tell) ages ago.
1 'Sally is late this evening.' 'She might __(delay) at work.'
2 Why is all this rubbish still here? It ought to __(throw away) yesterday.
3 The sweater I wanted to buy isn't in the shop window any more. It must __(sell).
4 It was lucky that you didn't fall off the ladder. You might __(kill).
5 You shouldn't have left all that money in your hotel room. It could __(steal).
Put these sentences into the passive, as in the example.
Example: I don't like people shouting at me. I don't like being shouted at.
1 I don't like people staring at me.
2 I can't stand people telling me what to do.
3 I don't like people interrupting me.
4 I dislike people making jokes about me.
5 I enjoy people praising me.
Using get instead of be in the passive
We sometimes use get (+past participle) instead of be (+past participle) to make passive verbs. We do this, for example, when we talk about things that happen be accident or unexpectedly.
My flat got burgled when I was on holiday.
I was surprised that I didn't get invited to the party.
My parents' fence got blown down in the storm.
We use get mostly in an informal style.
EXERCISE 6 À
Billy Palmer was a burglar once. He is speaking about a night some years ago when everything went wrong for him.
Complete Palmer's story using the past simple passive with get.
'It was terrible. First of all, my jeans got ripped (rip) as I was climbing over the garden wall. Then I __ 1 (stick) climbing through the bathroom window. Then I ___2 (bit) by a dog inside the house. The dog made so much noise that everyone in the house woke up and I ___3 (hit) over the head with an umbrella. Then, when I finally got out of the house, there was a police car waiting there. But, to my surprise, I ___4 (not | catch) that night. Although it wouldn't really have mattered if I had. Two weeks later, I ___5 (arrest) burgling another house and I __ 6 (sentence) to three years in prison.'
Verbs with two objects in the passive
Some verbs eg 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 and tell.
I was sent a telegram.
She will be told the news.
Put these sentences into the passive, beginning with the words given.
They promised Robert an interview for the job. Robert was promised an interview for the job.
1 They showed Sarah the photographs. Sarah___.
2 Normally, they pay me my salary every month. Normally, I__.
3 I think that they have sent us the wrong tickets. I think that we__.
4 I hope that someone will give Sally the message. I hope that Sally__.
5 They didn't ask me for my address. I___.
6 I thought that someone had told you about the meeting. I thought that you___.