We use the passive voice in 3 situations:
- When the subject is not known
e.g. Someone killed the president
The president was killed (by someone)
- When the subject is obvious
e.g. The cleaner has cleaned the office
The office has been cleaned (by the cleaner)
- When the subject is not important
e.g. Alex Huckle eats all of the pies.
All of the pies are eaten by Alex Huckle
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The best way to form the passive is with this simple 5 step rule:
Active = The man swept the floor last Friday.
Passive = The floor was swept by the man last Friday.
*you can omit by the man because it is irrelevant
- Object – singular or plural
- Tense – conjugate the verb to be in this tense
- Verb – past participle
- Subject – can it be omitted? (unknown, obvious, irrelevant)
- Complements – extra information
An important part of the passive is knowing how to conjugate the verb to be.
Present simple = is/are
Present continuous = is/are being
Present perfect = has/have been
Past perfect = had been
Past simple = was/were
Going to = is/are going to be
Would = would be
Can = can be
Will = will be
Must = must be
Could = could be
Might = might be
Should = should be
Modal perfect = would/could/might/should have been
See our post on CAUSATIVE GRAMMAR