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Learn about the Passive

 

Active or Passive?


Many verbs in English can be written in two ways: active or passive.

Active

J. K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in 1997.


J.K Rowling is important, so we say her name first.

Passive

The first Harry Potter book was written in 1997.


The book is important so we say the book first.


How to make passives


We make passives using be + past participle (the third form of the verb, e.g. done, gone, written ...). For example, with the verb "to make":


 Present SimplePast Simple
PositiveIt is made.It was made.
NegativeIt isn't made.It wasn't made.
QuestionIs it made?Was it made?

When to use passives


My favourite film is The Ring. It was made in 1998.The object is more important than the person/thing who did it.
My car was stolen last month.We don't know who did it.
Three robbers were arrested last night.It's obvious (here, it can only be the police) or not important who did something.

Passives with "by"


Most of the time we don't need to say who did something when we use a passive. But, if you want to add who did the action you can use "by".

Romeo and Juliet was written by Shakespeare.


(The teacher was given some lovely chocolate by her students.)


Passives practice

Next lesson: continuous passives

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