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Passive Voice

1) Definitions
2) When to use the passive voice

3) Rules of transformation

1) Definitions:
- Consider the following two sentences:

(a)  The teacher  explains  the lesson.
Subject           verb            object
(b) The lesson  is explained by the teacher.
        Subject           verb               agent

- The sentence (a) is in the active form because the subject (the teacher) is the doer of the action.
- The sentence (b) is in the passive voice because the subject (the lesson) is not the doer of the action but undergoes the action.

2) When to use the passive voice?:
* We use the passive voice:
- when it is more interesting to stress one thing done rather than its doer. 
e.g. This monument was built in 1964.
- or when the doer is unknown.
e.g. My wallet has been stolen.

3) Rules of transformation:
- When we turn a sentence from the active to the passive voice, the object of the active becomes the subject of the passive, and the subject of the active becomes the agent of the passive introduced by “by”.
b)- In order to find the form of the verb of the passive, we conjugate the auxiliary to be in the tense of the verb of the active and we follow it by the past participle of the verb of the active voice:

Tense of the Verb


Active Form


Passive Form


Present Simple

take / takes

am/is/are taken

Present Continuous

am/is/are taken

am/is/are being taken

Present Perfect

has/have taken

has/have been taken

Past Simple


was/were taken

Past Continuous

was/were taken

was/were being taken

Past Perfect

had taken

had been taken

Future Simple

will/shall take

will/shall be taken


would/should take

would/should be taken

c) -Verbs which have two objects can be made passive in two ways.  
e.g. They handed me a note.
1st  way: It is the first object of the active (“me”) which we make the subject of the passive:
                I was handed a note.
- 2nd way: It is the second object of the active which we make the subject of the passive:
             A note was handed to me.  

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