PASSIVE VOICE - English Grammar step-by-step


What is the passive voice? When do we use the passive voice? And how can I easily

change the active voice, to the passive voice? I'm Arnel from Arnel's

Everyday English, and today I'm going to answer these three questions step by

step. Today's lesson plan is: What is the passive voice? The grammatical structure.

When to use the passive voice. Plus an important study tip: Transforming from

the active to the passive. Some sentences cannot be transformed into the passive.

I'll tell you why. So, there's going to be a lot of information in this lesson. Get

ready to take notes! Let's begin. What is the passive voice? The passive

voice is the opposite of the active voice. Active: Everybody loves chocolate.

Passive: Chocolate is loved by everybody. Active: The lifeguard saved a man. Passive:

A man was saved by the lifeguard. Active: Decorators are painting my house. Passive:

My house is being painted. Okay, here are three examples of the passive. Now let's

look at this grammar in more detail. Step two: The grammatical structure. When you

form the passive you need BE plus a past participle. Here are the forms of BE.

There's a lot. AM/ARE/IS in the present, WAS/WERE in the past. You can use BEEN with

perfect tenses, and BEING in continuous tenses. You need a form of this plus that

past participle which is verb number three: EAT/ATE/EATEN, eaten is my past

participle. PLAY/PLAYED/PLAYED, played is my past participle.

The three sentences from earlier they all have BE and that past participle. So,

let's compare two sentences:

This bottle of ketchup has already BEEN opened.

I have BEEN tired for weeks.

Which sentence is passive?

Right! The first one. Why? Because I have the BE and the past participle. In the

second sentence, I have BE, Which is great. But I don't have a past participle, tired

is an adjective, so that sentence isn't a passive.

So, always remember the passive has... BE and past participle.

Step number three: Why do we use the passive?

When the action is more important or interesting than the person who does the

action. 1 million pounds were donated to the

children's hospital. Wow! 1 million pounds, that's a lot of money. This is very

interesting. Who donated the money? It's not important, I'm interested in the

information here.

Active, the Prime Minister donated 1 million pounds to the children's

hospital. Here, wow it's the prime minister. In the active sentence, it's

really important, who does the action. But in the passive, that's not important.

Number 2: The person who does the action is not known, or not important.

This beautiful bridge was built in 1732. Who built the bridge? It's not important.

Or, I don't know. Active: John Taylor Thomas built this

bridge in 1732. Imagine John Taylor Thomas is a famous

architect. Then, that information is important. In the passive, not important,

and in the active, important. Number 3: The person doing the action

is obvious. Bill was arrested last night. Who arrested Bill? It's obvious. The

police arrested Bill! Only the police can arrest someone.

Active: The police arrested bill last night. You could definitely say that, it's

just a different emphasis.

Number 4: The object cannot do the action itself.

100 chocolate cakes were sold on Sunday. Can a cake sell itself? Of course not, it

needs to be the passive. If you want to say who does the action,

you can use an agent. We form the agent using BY plus person. The agent is


1 million pounds were donated to the Children Hospital by the Prime Minister.

By the Prime Minister is optional information.

This beautiful bridge was built in 1732.

By John Taylor Thomas, that's optional information.

100 chocolate cakes were sold on Sunday by Jones's bakery. Again, optional

information. Important study tip!

In a newspaper, I want you to highlight any form of the passive you see. I want

you to ask yourself: Why is the passive being used? Is it reason one, two, three or

four? You can also do this when you're watching a film. Use the subtitles to

help you. Once you understand why the passive is being used, you can start

using it confidently.

Step number 4: Transforming an active sentence to a passive sentence. Active:

Apple sells thousands of iPhones every day. How can I change this to the passive?

Remember you need BE plus past participle.

Thousands of iPhones are sold every day. Do I want the agent? By Apple is

reason number three, it's obvious. Only Apple sells iPhones. Apple sells

thousands of iPhones every day. Thousands of iPhones are sold every day by Apple.

Each tense has its own passive structure. You need a list:

Here I have a list of the tenses, and you can see that BE and the past participle.

The tenses is in red present perfect continuous, past perfect continuous, do

not have a natural passive form. Don't try to form the passive using the

red tenses. Now I don't want you to think oh there are so many structures for me

to memorize. Step one, you recognize the passive step two,

you understand the passive, and step three you use the passive. Whichever step

you're on is fine.

Oh, how are you feeling? I hope you're feeling... like this and not like this... I

have one more important piece of information to tell you about the

passive. Intransitive verbs cannot be made into the passive. What is an

intransitive verb? An intransitive verb does not have an object.

I bought a coffee. Buy is a transitive verb, it needs an object. In this case,


I arrived late. Here, arrived is an intransitive verb. It doesn't need an

object. I arrived is fine there's no object needed, its intransitive.

So, send is number one if i want to make it the passive.

A coffee was bought. Perfect. Sentence number two,

it's not possible. Intransitive verbs, no passive. Fantastic, well done! If you want

a list of all the passive formations plus examples, you can go to my website.

I'll leave the link in the description for you. There you have it, if you want

more videos don't forget to SUBSCRIBE! And I'll see you very soon for another