1. The window cleaner cleans the windows twice a month.
2. The windows are cleaned twice a month.
When is it best to use the passive form?
A. When the subject is obvious, as above.
B. When the subject isn’t important, is unknown or to avoid personal involvement.
The glass was broken.
C. To describe processes.
The tomatoes are washed then sliced.
D. In formal writing, especially academic essays.
It is often argued that…
How is the passive structured?
Let’s compare the structure of the active and the passive.
Active - The teacher gave us homework.
Subject + verb + object
Passive – We were given homework (by the teacher).
Agent + be + past participle (by + subject)
Some important points to note:
a. The object becomes the agent of the verb.
b. The tense of the verb to be changes according to the sentence. In the example, the verb gave tells us that the active sentence is in the past simple so the verb to be is in the past simple in the passive sentence.
Present simple – is / are
Present continuous – is being / are being
Past simple – was / were
Past continuous – was being / were being
Present perfect – has been / have been
Past perfect – had been
c. The main verb is always in the past participle form.
Change these sentences to the passive.
1. Water flooded the house.
2. The council collects rubbish every Friday.
3. Someone has scratched my car door.
4. The employer asks staff to wear smart clothes.
5. The dry cleaners are cleaning my coat at the moment.
6. The security guard was following the thief.
Answers in the comments section.
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