Lesson One

The Passive Voice

Subject + (be) + past participle

  • The verb "be" indicates the verb tense
  • The past participle is the main verb. To learn more about past participles go here.
  • In the passive voice, the subject receives the action. In other words, the subject doesn’t really do anything. Action is completed by someone or something else.

for example:

  • Hes paid every other Friday. (present tense)
  • She was paid last Friday. (past tense)
  • A new house is being built across the street. (present continuous tense)
  • A big mess has been made in the kitchen. (present perfect)
  • The movie will be shown at 10:00. (future tense)


The Passive Voice is not easy when you first learn it. The key to understanding the passive voice comes when you practice changing a sentence from the active voice to the passive voice. There will be a lot of sentences to practice later in this lesson.

making breakfast

Active Voice: The man threw the pancake up in the air.

Passive Voice. The pancake was thrown up in the air by the man.

The first sentence sounds better. The second sentence sounds a little strange.

However, sometimes the passive voice sounds much better than the active voice.


Passive Voice: He was born in China.

Active Voice: His mother bore him in China.

  • bear / bore / born
  • bore = past tense
  • born = past participle

The sentence in the passive voice sounds good. The second sentence in the active voice sounds really, really bad. Sometimes only the passive voice is used when speaking or writing, and this is why it’s so important to understand.

Practice using the Passive Voice – Click here

Next: Lesson Two

Talking about where you were born