Passive Voice or Active ?

Verbs can be active or passive, depending on whether the subject is
doing (performing) or receiving the action of the verb.

The Passive Voice can be found in Lesson B2.07

Active Form:

In active sentences, the person or thing doing the action is the subject of the sentence, and the person or thing receiving the action is the object. Sentences are active more often than not.


The teacher
the student
Subject (doing the action) Verb Object (receiving the action)
The dishwasher
the dishes
Subject (doing the action) Verb Object (receiving the action)


Passive Form:

In a passive sentence, the person or thing receiving the action of the verb is the subject, and the person or thing doing the action is only mentioned towards the end of the sentence (when necessary).
For example: Use the passive form when the person or thing receiving the action is more important and needs to be emphasized.
You can also use the passive form if you don’t know who is doing the action, or if you don’t want to say who is doing the action.

RECEIVER + Verb BE + Past Participle of Main Verb + BY + DOER

The student
was taught
by the teacher
Subject (receiving the action) Passive Verb Object (doing the action)
The dishes
were washed
(by the dishwasher)
Subject (receiving the action) Passive Verb Object (doing the action)


Active or Passive Voice – Examples of Verb Tenses in both formats

Present Simple Once a week, Tony cleans the car Once a week, the car is cleaned by Tony
Present Continuous Susie is sewing a dress The dress is being sewed by Susie
Present Perfect People have bought souvenirs from here Souvenirs have been bought from here (by people)
Present Perfect Continuous Recently, Mike has been baking cakes Not really used – try the Present Perfect instead
Past Simple Fred painted the house The house was painted by Fred
Past Continuous The waitress was serving the customer. The customer was being served by the waitress
Past Perfect Mary had given English lessons before she became a teacher. English lessons had been given by Mary before she became a teacher
Past Perfect Continuous Anita had been taking English lessons before she went to England Not really used – try the Past Perfect instead
Future Simple (will) Greg will finish the job by 20.00 The job will be finished (by Greg) by 20:00
Future Intent (going to) Tom is going to write the essay this evening The essay is going to be written (by Tom) this evening
Future Continuous After dinner, John will be taking Mary home Mary will be taken home (by John) after dinner
Future Perfect They will have finished their homework by 9pm Their homework will have been finished by 9pm (by them)
Future Perfect Continuous We will have been playing soccer for an hour by the time the game finishes Not really used – try the Future Perfect instead
Future in the Past We were going to organize a party today A party was going to be organized (by us) today
Imperfect – Used to My mother used to do the shopping The shopping used to be done by my mother
Would always… My father would always pay the bills The bills would always be paid by my father


Related Content

Oxford Dictionary – Active and Passive Verbs
Your Dictionary – Examples of Active and Passive Voice.
British Council – Active and Passive Voice

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