English Passive Voice

Overview

This module introduces the passive voice in English, compares active and passive sentences, and discusses when to use each.

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“is done” & “was done”

In English, sentences can be either in the active voice or in the passive voice.
An active sentence typically signifies a person actively doing something. In a passive sentence, a person has something done to them.

Examples for active sentences: 

John read the book.
Lucy made the appointment.
called the office.
He cooked lunch.
We drove to work.

When formulating sentences in the passive voice, we typically use “is/are done” and “was/were done”. To formulate sentences in the passive voice, use “to be” + a verb in the past participle.

Examples for passive sentences: 

The book was read to John.
The appointment was made for Lucy.
The office was called.
Lunch was cooked.
We were driven to work by my friend.

To formulate sentences in the passive voice, we use the same formula “to be”, + verb in the past participle.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
Writing:
I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
Reading:
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
Listening:
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.