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[Update] Passive Voice | passive tense – NATAVIGUIDES

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The passive voice is often maligned by teachers and professors as a bad writing habit. Or, to put it in the active voice, teachers and professors across the English-speaking world malign the passive voice as a bad writing habit.

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What is the passive voice?

In general, the active voice makes your writing stronger, more direct, and, you guessed it, more active. The subject something, or it the action of the verb in the sentence. With the passive voice, the subject is acted upon by some other performer of the verb. (In case you weren’t paying attention, the previous two sentences use the type of voice they describe.)

But the passive voice is not incorrect. In fact, there are times when it can come in handy. Read on to learn how to form the active and passive voices, when using the passive voice is a good idea, and how to avoid confusing it with similar forms.

The difference between active and passive voice

While is all about time references, describes whether the grammatical subject of a clause performs or receives the action of the verb.
Here’s the formula for the active voice:
[subject]+[verb (performed by the subject)]+[optional object]

Chester kicked the ball.

In a passive voice construction, the grammatical subject of the clause the action of the verb. So, the ball from the above sentence, which is the action, becomes the subject. The formula:
[subject]+[some form of the verb ]+[past participle of a transitive verb]+[optional prepositional phrase]

The ball was kicked by Chester.

That last little bit—“by Chester”—is a prepositional phrase that tells you who the performer of the action is. But even though Chester is the one doing the kicking, he’s no longer the grammatical subject. A passive voice construction can even drop him from the sentence entirely:

The ball was kicked.

How’s that for anticlimactic?

When (and when not) to use the passive voice

If you’re writing anything with a definitive subject who’s performing an action, you’ll be better off using the active voice. And if you search your document for instances of was, is, or were and your page lights up with instances of passive voice, it may be a good idea to switch to active voice.

That said, there are times when the passive voice does a better job of presenting an idea, especially in certain formal, professional, and legal discussions. Here are three common uses of the passive voice:

1
Reports of crimes or incidents with unknown perpetrators

My car was stolen yesterday.

If you knew who stole the car, it probably wouldn’t be as big a problem. The passive voice emphasizes the stolen item and the action of theft.

2
Scientific contexts

The rat was placed into a T-shaped maze.

Who places the rat into the maze? Scientists, duh. But that’s less important than the experiment they’re conducting. Therefore, passive voice.

3
When you want to emphasize an action itself and the doer of the action is irrelevant or distracting:

The president was sworn in on a cold January morning.

How many people can remember off the top of their heads who swears in presidents? Clearly the occasion of swearing in the commander in chief is the thing to emphasize here.
In each of the above contexts, the action itself—or the person or thing receiving the action—is the part that matters. That means the performer of the action can appear in a prepositional phrase or be absent from the sentence altogether.

Creative ways to use the passive voice in writing

The above examples show some formal uses of the passive voice, but some writers take advantage of the shift in emphasis it provides for other reasons. Here are moments when the passive voice is a stylistic decision that suits the author’s writing goals.
1
Avoid getting blamed
There are times when you want to get away with something without making it crystal-clear who’s at fault. The classic example:

“Mistakes were made.” —most politicians

Who made them? Is anyone taking responsibility? What’s the solution here? One political scientist dubbed this structure the “past exonerative” because it’s meant to exonerate a speaker from whatever foul they may have committed. In other words, drop the subject, get off the hook.

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2
Beat around the bush

Jane Austen is a master of poking fun at her characters so euphemistically that it seems almost polite, and the passive voice is one of her favorite methods for doing that.

were carried to a point of perseverance beyond civility, they could not give offense.” —Jane Austen,

“[He] pressed them so cordially to dine at Barton Park every day till they were better settled at home that, though his entreatiesto a point of perseverance beyond civility, they could not give offense.” —Jane Austen,

Austen could have rephrased this sentence like so:

“Though Mr. Middleton carried his entreaties to a point of perseverance beyond civility, they could not give offense.”

Though maybe she means something closer to:

“Mr. Middleton pushed his invitations beyond the point of politeness and into pushiness, but he still meant well.”

In cases like this, the passive voice allows for more polite phrasing, even if it’s also a little less clear.

3
Make your reader pay more attention to the something

This is like the president getting sworn in: the thing that gets the action of the verb is more important than the people performing the action.

were evoked by historians as an emblem of the city drowned in memories.” —Gabriel García Márquez,

“That treasure lying in its bed of coral, and the corpse of the commander floating sideways on the bridge,as an emblem of the city drowned in memories.” —Gabriel García Márquez,

Here, you could invert the sentence to say “Historians evoked that treasure (and so on).” But that would take the focus away from that oh-so-intriguing treasure and the corpse. And since the historians are less important here, the author makes the choice to stress the key idea of the sentence through the passive voice.

Here’s another famous example that puts the emphasis on what happens to the subject, instead of on what the subject is doing:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” —The Declaration of Independence, 1776

“All men” (and these days, women, too) get boosted to the front of the phrase because their equality and rights are the focus. It makes sense that a statement declaring independence would focus on the people who get that independence, after all.

So writers use it. Can you?

The above examples lean toward the literary side of things, but don’t forget that there are times when the passive voice is useful and necessary in daily life. In each of the sentences below, the passive voice is natural and clear. Rewriting these sentences in the active voice renders them sterile, awkward, or syntactically contorted.
Passive: Bob Dylan was injured in a motorcycle accident.
Active: A motorcycle accident injured Bob Dylan.
Passive: Elvis is rumored to be alive.
Active: People rumor Elvis to be alive.
Passive: Don’t be fooled!
Active: Don’t allow anything to fool you!

Passive voice misuse

Sometimes what looks like passive voice isn’t passive voice at all. If you’re not careful, even the most careful eye can mistake the following sentences for passive voice.

Chester’s favorite activity is kicking.
The bank robbery took place just before closing time.
There is nothing we can do about it.
There were a great number of dead leaves covering the ground.

Despite what any well-meaning English teachers may have told you, none of the sentences above are written in the passive voice. The sentence about the leaves, in fact, was (wrongly) presented as an example of the passive voice by none other than Strunk and White in .
Here’s how to remember: using the verb doesn’t automatically put a verb phrase into the passive voice. You also need a past participle. That’s how to keep passive voice masqueraders from fooling you.

Use Grammarly to catch the passive voice

Grammarly catches instances of passive voice in your writing so you know when you need to switch it up. For example, when writing this, Grammarly pointed out that the first phrase was, in fact, written in passive voice. We ignored it, of course, for style reasons.

Want help finding passive voice?

Grammarly helps find and change passive voice

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The gist here:

  • The passive voice isn’t a grammatical error; it’s a matter of style
  • Use the active voice if it makes your sentence sound clearer and more natural
  • Forming passive voice requires the verb “to be” a past participle
  • The passive voice is your friend when the thing receiving an action is the important part of the sentence—especially in scientific and legal contexts, times when the performer of an action is unknown, or cases where the subject is distracting or irrelevant
  • When it comes to good writing, don’t be passive—even if your sentences sometimes need to be
  • Use Grammarly to help you find instances of passive voice
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[NEW] Passive Voice Rules for All Tenses | passive tense – NATAVIGUIDES

Passive Voice for all Tenses – Rules

There are two basic rules for converting sentences from active voice into passive voices, which apply to all tenses.

  1. The places of the subject and the object in a sentence are interchanged for converting active voice into passive voice.

  2. Only 3rd form of the verb (e.g., written) is used as the main verb in passive voice.

The rules for using ‘auxiliary verb’ (or helping verb) in passive voice are different for each tense, as explained below. At the end of this page, you can also see an easy way to remember these rules.

Present Indefinite Tense

Auxiliary verbs used in passive voice: is / am /are

Active Voice

Passive Voice

He writes a letter

A letter

is

written by him.

He does not write a letter.

A letter

is not

written by him.

Does he write a letter?

Is

a letter written by him?

They buy books.

Books

are

bought by them.

He helps me.

I

am

helped by him.

We make chairs.

Chairs

are

made by us.

 

Present Continuous Tense

Auxiliary verbs used in passive voice: is being / am being / are being

Active Voice

Passive Voice

She

is

eating a mango.

A mango

is being

eaten by her.

She

is not

eating a mango.

A mango

is not being

eaten by her.

Is

she eating a mango?

Is

a mango

being

eaten by her.

They

are

washing shirts.

Shirts

are being

washed by them.

You

are

disturbing me.

I

am being

disturbed by you.

We

are

decorating the room.

The room

is being

decorated by us.

 

Present Perfect Tense

Auxiliary verbs used in passive voice: has been / have been

Active Voice

Passive Voice

He

has

finished the work.

The work

has been

finished by him.

He

has not

finished the work.

The work

has not been

finished by him.

Has

he finished the work?

Has

the work

been

finished by him?

She

has

bought chairs.

Chairs

have been

bought by her.

They

have

started a business.

A business

has been

started by them.

I

have

helped the kids.

The kids

have been

helped by me.

You

have

broken the cup.

The cup

has been

broken by you.

 

Past Indefinite Tense

Auxiliary verbs used in passive voice: was / were

Active Voice

Passive Voice

He bought a car.

A car

was

bought by him.

He did not buy a car.

A car

was not

bought by him.

Did he buy a car?

Was

a car bought by him?

I wrote a letter.

A letter

was

written by me.

She decorated the walls.

The walls

were

decorated by her.

They saw a joker.

A joker

was

seen by them.

She kissed the babies.

The babies

were

kissed by her.

He asked some questions..

Some questions

were

asked by him.

 

Past Continuous Tense

Auxiliary verbs used in passive voice: was being / were being

Active Voice

Passive Voice

She

was

washing a shirt.

A shirt

was being

washed by her.

She

was not

washing a shirt.

A shirt

was not being

washed by her.

Was

she washing a shirt?

Was

a shirt

being

washed by her.

He

was

eating the meal.

The meal

was being

eaten by him.

They

were

enjoying the party.

The party

was being

enjoyed by them.

She

was

teaching the kids.

The kids

were being

taught by her.

He

was

appreciating the students.

The students

were being

appreciated by him.

 

Past Perfect Tense

Auxiliary verbs used in passive voice: had been

Active Voice

Passive Voice

They

had

won the competition.

The competition

had been

won by them.

They

had not

won the competition.

The competition

had not been

won by them.

Had

they won the competition?

Had

the competition

been

won by them?

He

had

bought a car.

A car

had been

bought by him.

She

had

passed the exam.

The exam

had been

passed by her.

They

had

resolved the issue.

The issue

had been

resolved by them.

The thief

had

stolen the money.

The money

had been

stolen by the thief.

 

Future Indefinite Tense

A

uxiliary verbs used in passive voice: will be

Active Voice

Passive Voice

He

will

study this book.

This book

will be

studied by him.

He

will not

study this book.

This book

will not be

studied by him.

Will

he study this book?

Will

this book

be

studied by him?

They

will

start a business.

A business

will be

started by them.

She

will

write a story.

A story

will be

written by her.

We

will

play a game.

A game

will be

played by us.

She

will

wear a new dress

A new dress

will be

worn by her.

Future Pefect Tense

Auxiliary verbs used in passive voice: will have been

Active Voice

Passive Voice

He

will have

received the letter.

The letter

will have been

received by him.

He

will not have

received the letter.

The letter

will not have been

received by him.

Will

he

have

received the letter?

Will

the letter

have been

received by him?

She

will have

cleaned the room.

The room

will have been

cleaned by her.

He

will have

finished the task.

The task

will have been

finished by her.

They

will have

attended the meeting

The meeting

will have been

attended by them.


The easy way to remember the rules
for change of auxiliaries is that each indefinite tense converts into continuous tense, each perfect tense converts into perfect continuous tense, and for each continuous tense the word ‘being’ is added with the auxiliary verb. As tense are generally learnt in a specific order, it can be said that six types of tenses directly convert into the next tense (within major tense e.g., present, past and future tense) and for two tenses (continuous tenses) the word ‘being’ is added to auxiliary. The remaining four tense are non-convertible to passive voice.

Present Indefinite tense

into

present continuous tense.

Present perfect tense

into

present perfect continuous tense.

Past Indefinite tense

into

past continuous tense.

Past perfect tense

into

past perfect continuous tense.

Future Indefinite tense

into

future continuous tense.

Future perfect tense

into

future perfect continuous tense.

For present continuous tense, the word ‘being’ is added with the auxiliaries ‘is’, ‘are’, and ‘am’, making them as ‘is being’ ‘are being’ and ‘am being

For future continuous tense, the word ‘being’ is added with the auxiliaries ‘was’, and ‘were’, making them as ‘was being’ and ‘were being’.

Note. The sentence of the following tenses cannot be converted into passive voice.

  1. Present Perfect Continuous Tense

  2. Past Perfect Continuous Tense

  3. Future Perfect Continuous Tense

  4. Future Continuous Tense

  5. Also, the sentences having Intransitive verbs.


Passive Voice – English Lesson


In this English lesson, we will be looking at how to formulate and use the Passive Voice.
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Passive Voice - English Lesson

The Passive Voice


Passive Voice is used when the focus is on the action, and not on the person who does it. Learn how to use it correctly in more tenses in this video. There are many examples that will make it easy for you to understand.

The Passive Voice

How to Use the Passive Voice in English – English Grammar Lesson


Do you know what the passive voice is, how to form the passive, and when you should use the passive in English? In this lesson, you can learn about the passive voice in English. You can see what it is, how to form it, and how to use it.
Have more of your passive voice questions answered after you watch the lesson. Book an online English lesson now with one of our teachers here: http://bit.ly/ooeteachers.
 See the full version of this free English grammar lesson here: https://www.oxfordonlineenglish.com/passivevoice
What you can learn in this lesson:
How to form the passive voice.
How to form different tenses in the passive.
How to use the passive to change the emphasis of a sentence.
How to use the passive when the subject of a verb is unknown or unimportant.
How to use the passive to sound more impersonal and indirect.
When not to use the passive.
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How to Use the Passive Voice in English - English Grammar Lesson

What were you doing? – Past Continuous


Learn how to use Past Continuous/Progressive through a short story in this video. We use this tense 1. for a continuous action in the past which was interrupted by another action \”I was reading the label, when the jar slipped out of my hands\”; 2. to describe the atmosphere \”The sun was shining\”; 3. for two actions which happened in the same time in the past \”I was sitting in the living room and she was taking a shower\”

What were you doing? - Past Continuous

PASSIVE FORM (Present Simple) in 4 MINUTES!!!


Learn when to use the passive form and how to make it!
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PASSIVE FORM (Present Simple) in 4 MINUTES!!!

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