Read about using passives in the present and past simple. Then, when you are ready, try these passives practice exercises.
Active or Passive?
Many verbs in English can be used in two ways: active or passive.
How to make passives
We make passives using be + past participle (the third form of the verb, e.g. done, gone, ...). For example, with the verb "to make":
|Positive||It is made.|
|Negative||It isn't made.|
|Question||Is it made?|
|Positive||It was made.|
|Negative||It wasn't made.|
|Question||Was it made?|
When to use passives
Use a passive when the object is more important than the person/thing who did it. It's probably the topic of your conversation.
My favourite film is The Ring. It was made in 1998.
Use a passive when we don't know who did the action.
My bag was stolen last week.
Use a passive when it's not important who did something (or it's obvious).
Three robbers were arrested last night.
(here, it's obvious it was the police - who else can arrest someone?)
Passives are more common in formal (especially academic) English - we don't use them so much in informal English.
Passives with "by"
Most of the time we don't need to say who did something when we use a passive.
The President has been shot by someone.
(by someone gives no extra information, so there's usually no reason to say it)
But, if it's important to add who did the action you can use "by".
Romeo and Juliet was written by Shakespeare.
Now try these passives practice exercises.