Passive Voice

Structure

Students often like the passive voice because it is logical. If we were to introduce a pattern for the structure of Passive Voice we would have to identify 2 of them, depending on the form:

  1. BE + III verb form → for all the structures which are not continuous.
  1. BE + BEING + III verb form → for those structures which are continuous.

Regardless of which pattern we need to use one thing is common for all passive voice structures:

we change the word order plus we change the form of a verb (into verb III).

subject-> verb → object to object → verb → subject

As we learnt before, in an active sentence (a standard sentence) the subject does the action to the object: Subject → Action → Object 

eg:

I drive the car.

In a passive sentence, we change the sentence order putting the object at the beginning of the sentence – Object → Action → Subject

eg: 

The car is driven by me.

Let’s back it up with examples showing active and passive for each tense / structure:I drive the car.

Not Countinuous Structures

Active Sentence Passive Sentence
Present Simple  
She writes a book every dayA book is written (by her) every day.
Past Simple  
She wrote a book yesterday.A book was written (by her) yesterday.
Present Perfect  
She has written a book.A book has been written (by her) today.
Past Perfect  
She had written a book before she met me.A book had been written (by her) before she met me.
Future Simple  
She will write a book tomorrow.A book will be written (by her) tomorrow.
Future Perfect  
She will have written a book by then.A book will have been written (by her) by then.
Modal Verbs  
She can write a book.A book can be written (by her).
She should write a book.A book should be written (by her).
‘Going to’ Structure  
She is going to write a book.A book is going to be written (by her).

Countinuous Structures

Present Continuous  
She is writing a book now.→ A book is being written (by her) now.
Past Continuous  
She was writing a book yesterday.A book was being written (by her) yesterday.
Present Perfect Continuous  
She has been writing a book for 2 months.A book has been being written (by her) for 2 months.
Past Perfect Continuous  
She had been writing a book before then.A book had been being written (by her) before…
Future Continuous  
She will be writing a book tomorrow.A book will be being written (by her) tomorrow.
Future Perfect Continuous  
She will have been writing a book for 2 months next Sunday.A book will have been being written (by her) for 2 months next Sunday.
Modal Verbs  
She may be writing a book.A book may be being written (by her).
She should be writing a book.A book should be being written (by her).

 Usage 

We use Passive Voice in order to: 

  1. shift the emphasis from who performed the action into action itself (because we don’t know who performed it or because it’s obvious or not important)

eg My car has been stolen. (We don’t know who did it.)

It is said that she is very talented. (It’s not important who says it.) 

  1. be more polite / formal

 eg It’s requested that you do not smoke in here.

My cake has been eaten.