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Video: Using the passive voice


As we can see from the example sentences the verb construction is different in active and passive sentences. The passive form can be used with most different tenses; our sentences here are in the present simple. We form present simple passive using am/are/is + past participle. To form passive sentences in the different tenses, we use different forms of the verb ‘to be’ plus the past participle.

Notice that the object of the active sentence – newspapers – has become the subject of the passive sentence. Also, when we want to introduce the person or thing which is doing the action in a passive sentence we use by. Although it is common when using passive sentences not to include the person or thing doing the action, you may wish to keep it in Task I processes as it will help you to reach the word count.

Now let’s use the passive in another tense. Let’s look at this example. We can see that this sentence could follow our previous passive sentence. Note that the tense we are talking about in our new sentence is the present perfect. We use this because we are talking about a recently completed action which has a connection to the present. The present perfect passive is formed using: has/have + been + past participle. Present simple and present perfect passives are useful for describing processes which have no specific time; however, remember that you may need to describe a process in a different tense, the past for example. For more information on passives, look at the passives exercises in the grammar section of the main page.


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