Grammar » B1 Grammar lessons and exercises » Active and passive voice
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  • Active and passive voice

    Exercise 1

    Choose the correct form, active or passive, to complete the sentences below.

    1 Hundreds of people in this factory and many of them their jobs.

    2 Three men after the incident, and five others to hospital.

    3 About 71 percent of the Earth's surface by water, and oceans about 96% of all Earth's water.

    4 The package more than a week ago, but it until yesterday.

    5 The building by the fire, but everybody .

    6 My camera and I all the photographs from my last trip.

    7 You for what you .

    8 I know red wine  cold, but we it at room temperature.

    9 I to see you any more, so you again.

    10 Please, away from the places where you .


  • Active and passive voice

    B1 intermediate English grammar chart comparing active and passive voice structures with definitions for subject, object, doer, and receiver, and examples illustrating when to use the passive voice.

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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:

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

    As you can see, the object of an active sentence is the subject of a passive sentence. You can learn how to form the passive in all the different verb tenses here.

    When do we use the passive?

    The passive is more formal than the active and 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 to 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.)

    The passive voice is very common in the news and in formal writing.

    • Arsenal have been defeated 3‐0, and they are now 4th in the table.
    • The British embassy in Israel has been destroyed by an earthquake. 
    • The Catalan election will be held next September.

    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
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