The Passive Voice – English, B2


  1. FORM



  • I punished.                    – I was punished.
  • He’ll recognize.            –  He’ll be recognized.
  • We have arrested.       – We have been arrested.
  • She had bitten.             – She had been bitten.
  • He’ll have chosen        – He’ll have been chosen

Note :

For continuous tenses : just follow the rule (as if ‘to be’ had continuous tenses)

  • They are following.     –  They are being followed.
  • He was questioning    –   He was being questioned.

For a gerund : keep following the rule.

  •  I hate washing.             – I hate being washed.
  • It is no use warning.    – It is no use being warned.

For an infinitive : Keep following the rule.

  • I want to drive.              – I want to be driven.
  • They hoped to rescue. – The hoped to be rescued.


  1. Object ® subject (and subject ® agent).
  • Tom beats John.        – John is beaten by Tom.    (‘by Tom’ = agent)
  • A stone hit him.          – He was hit by a stone.
  1. Two objects : personal object ® subject.
  • They gave Mary a ticket.        – Mary was given a ticket.
  • They showed us an ugly painting.      – We were shown an ugly painting.
  1. Subject of no importance : no agent.
  • People speak English all over the world.  – English is spoken all over the world.
  • They gave the students a new book.   – The students were given a new book.

but :    Mozart composed this music.            – This music was composed by Mozart.


  1. Prepositions : do not forget them.
  • I hate people laughing at me.           – I hate being laughed at.
  • the shop out of which they stole a book              –  the shop a book was stolen out of.


  1. ‘They say’ (or believe, suppose, think etc.) : use an infinitive construction.
  • They say he’s a thief.          –  He is said to be a thief. (much better.)
  • They suppose he is very rich.      – He is supposed to be very rich.
  • The think he’s the brain of the gang.   – He is thought to be the brain of the gang.

Be careful :  sometimes a perfect infinitive is necessary.

  • They believe he is a spy.         – He is believed to be a spy.
  • They believe he was a spy in WWII.  – He is believed to have been a spy in WWII.

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