The Passive Voice

The passive voice is less usual than the active voice. The structure of the passive voice is very simple. 

Формула формирования страдательного залога

We can form the passive in any tense. In fact, conjugation of verbs in the passive tense is rather easy, as the main verb is always in past participle form and the auxiliary verb is always be. To form the required tense, we conjugate the auxiliary verb.



It is cleaned.


It was cleaned.


It will be cleaned.



It is being cleaned.


It was being cleaned.

perfect simple


It has been cleaned.


It had been cleaned.

The main verb is always in its past participle form. We form questions by putting the verb to be before the subject. We form negations with the word not.

The building was constructed in the previous century.
Is your house being redecorated?
The new furniture hasn’t been delivered yet.


We form the passive of infinitives like these:

Формирование Present infinitive.

Формирование Perfect infinitive в действительном и страдательном залоге.

She wants to be admired.

Modal verbs and infinitives

We form the passive of modal verbs like this. 

modal verb + be + past participle

The bills must be paid.

Use of the Passive Voice

We use the passive when:

  • we want to make the active object more important
  • we do not know the active subject
  • the active subject is unimportant
  • the active subject is obvious from the context





give importance to active object (President Kennedy)

President Kennedy

was killed

by Lee Harvey Oswald.

active subject is unknown

My car

has been stolen.

active subject is unimportant


is made in Scotland.

active subject is obvious from the context

The bank robbers

are being questioned.

Note that we always use by to introduce the passive object.

Australia was discovered by Captain Cook.

However, there are cases when we do not talk about the “agent” or “doer”, but about the instrument used. In this case we use with.

He was killed with a gun. – Normally we use by to introduce the passive object. But the gun is not the active subject. The gun did not kill him. He was killed by somebody with a gun. In the active voice, it would be: Somebody killed him with a gun.

Turning the active into the passive

To turn a sentence from the active into the passive:

  • The object of the active sentence becomes the subject in the passive sentence.
  • The active verb changes into a passive form.
  • The subject of the active sentence becomes the agent.








the bills.







The bills

were paid

by Jane.


Study the following table:




present simple

She makes copies.

Copies are made.

present continuous

She is making copies.

Copies are being made.

past simple

She made copies.

Copies were made.

past continuous

She was making copies.

Copies were being made.

present perfect simple

She has made copies.

Copies have been made.

past perfect simple

She had made copies.

Copies had been made.

future simple

She will make copies.

Copies will be made.


She has to make copies.

Copies have to be made.


She can make copies.

Copies can be made.

Only the verbs that take an object can be turned into the passive.

The chambermaid makes the beds.
The beds are made by the chambermaid.

It is raining heavily. – The sentence can’t be turned into the passive because the verb does not take an object.


When the subject of the active sentence is one of the following words: people, one, someone / somebody, they, he, etc., the agent is often omitted in the passive sentence.

People speak English all over the world. → English is spoken all over the world.
Someone stole my purse. → My purse was stolen.

Object pronouns

Object pronouns (me, you, them, etc.) become subject pronouns (I, you, they, etc.) in the passive.

They told me the truth about the accident. → I was told the truth about the accident.

When the verb of the active sentence is followed by a preposition, the preposition is kept in the passive sentence as well.

She took care of the children while their mother was away. → The children were taken care of while their mother was away.

Who / What … by?

When we want to find out who or what did something, then the passive is formed as follows: Who / What … by?

Who was Australia discovered by? – Australia was discovered by Captain Cook.

What was he bitten by? – He was bitten by a dog.


With verbs that take two objects, such as ask, bring, tell, send, show, teach, promise, offer, give, pay, lend, etc., we can form the passive in two ways.

The company offered Michael a job.
Michael was offered a job.
A job was offered to Michael.

They paid us £3000.
We were paid £3000.
£3000 was paid to us.



Упражнения на страдательный залог


Упражнения на страдательный залог
Упражнения на каузативную форму


Упражнения на Страдательный залог неличных форм глагола
Упражнения на каузативную форму


Упражнения на каузативную форму


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