The passive voice

English grammar (See all)

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The passive voice

The passive voice is formed using the auxiliary verb be + the past participle:
Connors was hired (by Bruno) a long time ago. Bruno hired Connors a long time ago.

Note that passive constructions often do not have an object (by...) as is the case in the active voice:
Bruno hired Connors a long time ago. active voice
Connors was hired a long time ago. passive voice (by Bruno is implicit)

Some commonly used passive expressions:
I was born in 1947. My mother gave birth to me in 1947.
Three positions are left. Three positions remain.
It's easier said than done. It's easier to say it than to do it.
What's to be done? What is there to do?
It remains to be seen. It is not clear right now.

Note:

•  The passive voice and the progressive form:
They are being held by the police. The police are keeping them in custody.
Donations are now being accepted. They are now accepting donations.

•  The verb to get is often used instead of to be to emphasize the idea of effort:
to get invited to be invited, to receive an invitation
to get hired to be hired, to receive a job offer


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