Understanding The Complex Passive Voice Explained In Level C1 Of The CEFR
“The passive voice is a grammatical voice found in many languages that places the focus on the recipient of the action rather than the one doing it… The passive voice is typically used when the performer of an action and its recipient are the same (e.g. “the apple was taken by John”),” according to Wikipedia. In this blog article, you’ll find out what it means for English learners, and why understanding it is so important for your progress!
When we say that a sentence is in the passive voice, we mean that the subject of the sentence is being acted upon by the verb. In other words, the subject is not doing the verb.
For example, take a look at this sentence:
The ball was thrown by John.
In this sentence, John is the subject and was thrown is the verb. But, because John is not doing the throwing (the ball is), we say that this sentence is in the passive voice.
Here are some more examples of sentences in the passive voice:
-Two hundred dollars were stolen from my bank account last night.-My car was hit by a truck this morning.-The lamp was knocked over by a gust of wind that came through the window.
As you can see, all of these sentences have one thing in common: The subject is not doing the verb. In each case, something is happening to the subject.
There are four types of passive voice:
1. The simple passive voice is used when the subject is the recipient of the action. For example, “The ball was caught by John.”
2. The progressive passive voice is used when the subject is in the process of receiving the action. For example, “The ball is being caught by John.”
3. The perfect passive voice is used when the subject has already received the action. For example, “The ball has been caught by John.”
4. The pluperfect passive voice is used when the subject had already received the action before another time frame that is mentioned. For example, “The ball had been caught by John before it was thrown.”
How to use the Passive Voice
The passive voice is a grammatical construction in which the subject of a sentence or clause is not the actor or doer, but the recipient of the action. The passive voice is often used in academic writing to make complex ideas more understandable, or to emphasize particular points.
When using the passive voice, it is important to be aware of who or what is doing the action, and to use the correct verb tense. In general, the passive voice is formed by using a form of the verb “to be” (am, are, is, was, were) followed by the past participle of the main verb. For example:
The lamp was knocked over by a gust of wind.
In this sentence, the subject (lamp) is not performing the action (knocked over), but is instead receiving the action (being knocked over). The active equivalent of this sentence would be: “A gust of wind knocked over the lamp.”
It is also possible to use other verbs in the passive voice, such as “get,” “become,” and “seem.” For example:
The lamp seems to have been knocked over by a gust of wind.
In this sentence, it is not clear who or what caused the lamp to be knocked over – all we know for sure is that it has happened.
To summarize, when using the passive voice it is important to:
– Use the correct verb tense
– Be aware of who or what is doing the action
– Use the correct form of the verb “to be”
– Use other verbs if necessary
Making a Passive Voice from an Active Voice
When we make a sentence in the passive voice, the subject of the sentence is acted upon by the verb. The active voice is direct and straightforward: “The cashier counted the money.” In the passive voice, the subject is no longer doing the verb’s action: “The money was counted by the cashier.”
We form passive sentences by using a form of the verb “to be” with a past participle. In English, there are three main tenses in which we use the passive voice: present simple, past simple, and present perfect. To change an active sentence into a passive sentence in one of these tenses, we follow this formula:
Subject + Form of “to be” + Past Participle of Verb + By + Agent (optional)
Here are some examples of how to make a passive voice from an active voice in each tense:
Present Simple: Active – The cashier counts the money. Passive – The money is counted by the cashier.
Past Simple: Active – The cashier counted the money. Passive – The money was counted by the cashier.
Present Perfect: Active – The cashier has counted the money. Passive – The money has been counted by the cashier.
Thank you for reading!
This was written by me. Bryce Purnell, founder of Learn Laugh Speak.