Exercise 1

Choose the correct present and past simple passive or active forms to complete the following text

The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking 1 in the middle of the 15th century in Yemen. It was here in Arabia that roasted coffee seeds 2 for the first time. Coffee 3 then in a very similar way to how we 4 it in the present day. Coffee 5 by Sufi circles to stay awake for their religious rituals.

In the 16th century, coffee 6 the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, and northern Africa. And not long after that, coffee 7 to Italy and to the rest of Europe, and to the Americas.

In Europe, coffee 8 in Venice first, and from Venice, it 9 to the rest of Europe. Coffee became more widely accepted after Pope Clement VIII 10 that it was a Christian beverage in 1600; many people wanted to ban coffee because they said it was a "Muslim drink". The first European coffee house opened in Rome in 1645.

Adapted from Wikipedia



Present and past simple passive – grammar chart

Present and past simple passive: be + past participle

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Active sentences vs passive sentences

When A does B, we have two possible ways of talking about it: active or passive. In active sentences A is the subject (before the verb). In passive sentences B is the subject. Check the following examples:

Present simple


  • Somebody cleans the classroom every day. (Active)
  • The classroom is cleaned every day. (Passive)


Past simple


  • Somebody cleaned the classroom yesterday. (Active)
  • The classroom was cleaned yesterday. (Passive)

As you can see, the object of an active sentence is the subject of a passive sentence. In an active sentence, the subject is the ‘doer’ of the action and the object is the ‘receiver’ of the action. And in a passive sentence, the subject is the receiver of the action, NOT the doer. Compare:

  • A) Somebody broke the window.
  • B) The window was broken (by someone).

In sentence A, ‘somebody’ is the doer of the breaking, and in sentence B, ‘the window’ is the receiver of the breaking.

When do we use the passive?

The passive is more formal than the active and it is more common in written language. We often use the passive when we don’t know, when it is obvious, or when we don’t want so say who or what is responsible for the action.

  • A bank was robbed yesterday. (We don’t know who robbed the bank.)
  • The robber was arrested last night. (It’s obvious that the police arrested the robber.)
  • I was told that you insulted my brother. (I don’t want to say who told me.)
  • Jurassic Park was filmed by Spielberg in 1993. (I’m talking about Jurassic Park and not about Spielberg.)


Passive voice + by

We can use by to say who or what is responsible for the action.

  • The painting was bought by a very rich American.
  • Penicillin was invented by Alexander Fleming