How to use the Passive Voice 😅 English Grammar Lesson
Hello I'm Emma from mmmEnglish!
This lesson is at the top of my request list.
So many of you have been asking me for a lesson
so I'm glad that I finally got it ready for you.
Now, this can be a really confusing grammar
"What's the point of the passive voice?
Understanding the passive voice is important.
what it looks like, why it's useful
and you'll practise using it with me.
The passive voice is used often
It's a mistake to think that it's only used
It's also used informally, quite a bit!
So stay with me through this entire lesson,
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So why should you use the passive voice?
Well there are times when you don't want to say who
Maybe you're trying to avoid responsibility
or you don't want to get your mate into trouble
or maybe you don't know who did the action or
or because actually the object is the most important
or the most interesting part of the sentence.
So that's the thing that the action is happening to
not the thing that is doing the action.
You can use the passive to change
To understand the passive voice,
I should really first explain the active voice
are more complicated than this but we'll start simply.
The subject does the action to the object.
Now, imagine that you left for work in the morning
and there was a whole cake on the kitchen table.
it had completely disappeared.
I mean, you could probably guess, but you don't know.
So the solution is to use the passive voice
because we don't know who ate the cake.
Now, sometimes we're just more interested
in the object of the sentence rather than the subject.
English speakers frequently use the passive voice.
But this lesson isn't about English speakers,
It's the most important thing.
So we can change it to say the passive voice
is frequently used by English speakers.
Now you'll often read passive sentences in newspapers
when the journalist can't say who did something.
Maybe because they don't know who did it.
It's also used in scientific reports and legal documents
because the information has to be objective
Now some other really common passive expressions
We don't say "My mother bore me on June 23rd 1989."
When your friend tells you about his new colleague,
he won't say "People call him Tony"
he'll say "He's called Tony" or "He's named Tony"
'The Stand' was written by Stephen King.
The movie Deadpool was directed by Tim Miller.
The national anthem was sung by Fergie.
In all of these really common examples,
you can see the structure of the passive voice.
The be verb followed by the past participle.
I thought we only use the past participle verb
Yeah we do use it in the perfect tenses
If you see the be verb followed by
you know that this is a passive sentence.
So let's go back to the first example to explain the form
If our active sentence is "The children ate the cake"
"The cake was eaten by the children"
The object of the active sentence becomes the subject
To make the object of the active sentence
we actually need to change a few things in our sentence
So are you ready to learn how to do that?
we need to use the passive tense
and there are six steps to turn an active sentence
Now you might want to take a notepad out
so that you can write them down as we go.
Step one, identify the subject, the verb and the object
Step two, move the object to become the new subject
Step three, check the active sentence.
What is the verb tense in the active sentence?
This is really important because the passive voice
exists across different tenses
so you must check what tense the active sentence is in
to make your passive sentence correct.
It's in the past simple, "The children ate the cake".
Step four, conjugate the verb be
so that it's in the same tense
as the main verb in the active sentence.
and our new subject is the cake
so we can choose was, "The cake was".
add the past participle of the main verb after be.
So looking back at the active sentence,
though it's in past simple form
but can you think of the past participle of eat?
you need to decide what to do with the subject
In the passive voice, you don't have to include
the thing that is doing the action.
that former subject from your sentence
and that's helpful if you don't know who ate the cake
or you don't want to say who it was
or you don't care - maybe it's not important.
But you can add it to the end of your sentence
The cake was eaten by the children.
Let's look at some more examples together.
The car will be sold by the weekend.
The washing had been left out in the rain.
Many people's lives were saved.
Can you see the passive form here?
The be verb is always there but it tells us the tense.
It helps to describe when something happened
and it also conjugates with the subject.
And the be verb is always followed
We can also explain who or what did the action
The house was built by her grandfather.
This car will be sold by the salesman.
The washing had been left out in the rain
Many people's lives were saved by the volunteers.
Okay let's try a new sentence together.
I want you to do this one with me please.
Can you remember the six steps?
Someone has stolen my neighbour's car.
Now can you remember step number one?
It's easy! Identify the subject, verb and object.
Step two, make the object the subject.
in the original active sentence.
Step four, you need to conjugate the be verb
so that it's in the same tense.
We're using has because the subject is now the car.
Step five, add the main verb in past participle form.
The neighbor's car has been stolen.
It's the same verb as the original sentence,
which was also the past participle.
do you need to include the thing that did the action?
because we don't really know anything about who did it,
my neighbor's car has been stolen.
But if we knew a little bit more about who or what did it,
we could definitely include it.
My neighbor's car has been stolen by someone.
My neighbor's car has been stolen by a monkey.
So the passive form always includes the be verb
and if you need to include any information about
what or who did the action use by.
three more examples for you to practise with.
We made lots of money in 2002.
Lots of money was made by us in 2002.
I will clean the house on Monday.
The house will be cleaned by me on Monday.
He built the house for his parents.
The house was built by him for his parents.
Okay now that's enough for this lesson
but there is actually a lot more to practise
like how to use the negative forms and questions,
how to use modal verbs in the passive voice,
how to include adverbs of manner
to explain how something is done.
But there is enough information right there
for a whole new lesson so I'll get to that.
Practise your passive sentences in the comments
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That's it from me today, I'll see you next week
for another mmmEnglish lesson. Bye for now!