English Daily Workout: Passive Voice: Use and Formation

Passive Voice: Use and Formation



English Grammar Lesson



CHAPTER 12. The passive voice
    1. Use of the passive voice
    2. Formation of the indicative mood of the passive voice
         a. The Simple Present indicative
         b. The other indicative tenses
         c. Summary of the formation of the indicative tenses of the passive voice
 
1. Use of the passive voice
 

As explained in the preceding chapter, the Active Voice of a verb is used when the subject of the verb refers to the person or thing performing the action described by the verb.

In contrast, the Passive Voice of a verb is used when the subject of the verb refers to the person or thing receiving the action described by the verb. Only a verb which can take an object can be put into the Passive Voice.

The Passive Voice is more commonly used in English than it is in other European languages such as German or French. As well as being used in everyday English, the Passive Voice is used extensively in official documents and scientific papers.

In the following examples, the verbs in the Passive Voice are underlined.
e.g. The ball was struck by the boy.
      Gold has been found by the explorers.
In these examples, the verbs was struck and has been found are in the Passive Voice. The subjects ball and gold refer to things receiving the actions described by the verbs.



2. Formation of the indicative mood of the passive voice
 

For every tense in the Active Voice, there is a corresponding tense in the Passive Voice. In the Passive Voice, the verb to be acts as an auxiliary. The Passive Voice tenses of an English verb are formed from the corresponding conjugations of to be, followed by the past participle of the verb.

a. The simple present indicative
For instance, the Simple Present Indicative of to be, and the Simple Present Indicative of the Passive Voice of the verb to show are conjugated as follows:

Simple Present IndicativeSimple Present Indicative
of To Beof Passive Voice of To Show
  I am                                                                                  I am shown
  you are  you are shown
  he is  he is shown
  she is  she is shown
  it is  it is shown
  we are  we are shown
  they are  they are shown


b. The other indicative tenses
Similarly, the other Indicative tenses of the Passive Voice of the verb to show are conjugated as indicated in the following table. The corresponding tenses of the verb to be are included for purposes of comparison.



The verb To Be compared with the Passive Voice of the verb To Show
 

Present ContinuousPresent Continuous
I am being                                                                                            I am being shown
you are beingyou are being shown
he is beinghe is being shown
she is beingshe is being shown
it is beingit is being shown
we are beingwe are being shown
they are beingthey are being shown
Present PerfectPresent Perfect
I have beenI have been shown
you have beenyou have been shown
he has beenhe has been shown
she has beenshe has been shown
it has beenit has been shown
we have beenwe have been shown
they have beenthey have been shown
Present Perfect ContinuousPresent Perfect Continuous
have been beingI have been being shown
you have been beingyou have been being shown
he has been beinghe has been being shown
she has been beingshe has been being shown
it has been beingit has been being shown
we have been beingwe have been being shown
they have been beingthey have been being shown
Simple PastSimple Past
I wasI was shown
you wereyou were shown
he washe was shown
she wasshe was shown
it wasit was shown
we werewe were shown
they werethey were shown
Past ContinuousPast Continuous
I was beingI was being shown
you were beingyou were being shown
he was beinghe was being shown
she was beingshe was being shown
it was beingit was being shown
we were beingwe were being shown
they were beingthey were being shown
Past PerfectPast Perfect
I had beenI had been shown
you had beenyou had been shown
he had beenhe had been shown
she had beenshe had been shown
it had beenit had been shown
we had beenwe had been shown
they had beenthey had been shown
Past Perfect ContinuousPast Perfect Continuous
I had been beingI had been being shown
you had been beingyou had been being shown
he had been beinghe had been being shown
she had been beingshe had been being shown
it had been beingit had been being shown
we had been beingwe had been being shown
they had been beingthey had been being shown
Simple FutureSimple Future
I will (shall) be                                                                       I will (shall) be shown
you will beyou will be shown
he will behe will be shown
she will beshe will be shown
it will beit will be shown
we will (shall) bewe will (shall) be shown
they will bethey will be shown
Future ContinuousFuture Continuous
I will (shall) be beingI will (shall) be being shown
you will be beingyou will be being shown
he will be beinghe will be being shown
she will be beingshe will be being shown
it will be beingit will be being shown
we will (shall) be beingwe will (shall) be being shown
they will be beingthey will be being shown
Future PerfectFuture Perfect
I will (shall) have beenI will (shall) have been shown
you will have beenyou will have been shown
he will have beenhe will have been shown
she will have beenshe will have been shown
it will have beenit will have been shown
we will (shall) have beenwe will (shall) have been shown
they will have beenthey will have been shown
Future Perfect ContinuousFuture Perfect Continuous
I will (shall) have been being                              I will (shall) have been being shown
you will have been beingyou will have been being shown
he will have been beinghe will have been being shown
she will have been beingshe will have been being shown
It will have been beingit will have been being shown
we will (shall) have been beingwe will (shall) have been being shown
they will have been beingthey will have been being shown

c. Summary of the formation of the indicative tenses of the passive voice
The following table summarizes the formation of the Indicative tenses of the Passive Voice.

The Formation of the Indicative Mood of the Passive Voice


TenseAuxiliaryVerb Form
Simple Present                                      am/is/are                                                 past participle
Present Continuousam/is/are beingpast participle
Present Perfecthave/has beenpast participle
Present Perfect Continuous**have/has been beingpast participle
Simple Pastwas/werepast participle
Past Continuouswas/were beingpast participle
Past Perfecthad beenpast participle
Past Perfect Continuous**had been beingpast participle
Simple Futurewill (shall) be*past participle
Future Continuous**will (shall) be beingpast participle
Future Perfectwill (shall) have beenpast participle
Future Perfect Continuous**will (shall) have been beingpast participle


* The other modal auxiliaries form conjugations in the same way as shown for will and shall.

** The Present Perfect Continuous, Past Perfect Continuous, Future Continuous, and Future Perfect Continuous tenses of the Passive Voice are cumbersome, and are rarely used. Only the more commonly used tenses of the Passive Voice will be discussed below.