passive voice – construction & use

Passive voice – construction & use. Learn how to form and when to use passive voice in English. In this post ou will find useful theory, helpful diagrams, examples and exercises.

Passive voice – construction & use

Passive voice – theory

Active voice: in active voice we focus on the agent – the person that performs the activity

example: He drives a taxi.

Passive voice: in passive voice we concentrate on activity rather than on the agent

example: A taxi is driven.

How do we form passive voice?

Diagram 1

S – subject
V – verb
O – object

Diagram 2

How do we form passive voice ?


  1. Object takes the place of suject (goes to the first positio in a sentence)
  2. We put the verb ‘to be’ in the right tense
  3. We place the main verb in he III form (past participle)

Passive voice – examples:

tensesactive voice passive voice
Present simple He brings newspapers every day. Newspapers are brought every day.
Present continuous I am writing a letter. A letter is being written.
Present perfect simple She has just finished the task. The task has just been finished.
Present perfect continuous We have been repairing the car. The car has been repaired.
Past simple Tom broke the window. The window was broken.
Past continuous Tania was using the machine. The machine was being used.
Past perfect simple I had moved the sofa. The sofa had been moved.
Past perfect continuous She had been working on this project for 4 weeks. This project had been worked on for 4 weeks.
Future simple He will serve dinner at 5 Dinner will be served at 5.
‘to be going to’ We are going to buy a house. A house is going to be bought.
Future perfect simple I will have checked this e-mail by tomorrow. This e-mail will have been checked by tomorrow.
Future perfect continuous She will have been painting this picture for a year next month. This picture will have been painted for a year next month.

Verb ‘to be’ i the passive voice

The form of the verb ‘to be’ in the passive voice depends on the tense we want to use. The verb ‘to be’ will always act the same way as the main verb in active voice.


present simle – am/is/are

present continous – being

past simple – was/were

present perfect – been

tense subject auxiliar verb ‘to be’ main verb in the III form
Present simple Newspapers are brought
Present continuous A letter is being written
Present perfect The task has been finished
Past simple The window was broken
Past continuous The machine was being used.
‘to be going to A house is going to be bought

When do we use passive voice?

  1. when ‘the agent’ is not importat or we are not interested in the person performing the activity
  2. in formal, official letters / documents
  3. in reports

Practise passive voice online:

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