“To let oneself be carried on passively is unthinkable.”Virginia Wolf

This week C1 M/W has been looking at the immense topic of the Passive.  Here is a little support in its use.  A reminder, as always, seeing the structures for yourselves will give you more awareness of how and when it is used. Reading newspaper articles will help you no end in identifying it in various forms.  Reading in general will always be a good friend in language learning.

Things to remember:

  • Only with verbs that have an object (Transitive).  I like to think of an object being transported in a suitcase. The verbs that are greedy and take two objects behave in various ways, which is nicely summarised and exemplified here.
  • If we want to introduce the agent use ‘by’.
  • Phrasal verbs which may be split in the active, cannot be split in the passive. Eg. The spy picked the package up from the locker at the train station = The package was picked up from the locker at the train station.
  • Passive usually pops up in more formal or technical writing.
  • If used in informal speech, we can use ‘get’ instead of ‘be’. We need to be careful with the position of adverbs in this case.  The homework was ‘accidentally’ left behind in the classroom = The homework ‘accidentally’ got left behind in the classroom. (Please note the inverted commas are not only indicating position, but also skepticism at it being accidental!)

Main uses and examples:

  1. Part of a process. Click on the link to find out how to make a falla step by step.
  2. When the object is deemed more important. Eg. On Christmas Day, George Michael was found dead at his home.
  3. Rules/polite requests. Students who know me will know how annoyed I get by the grammatically inaccurate airport tannoy announcements, so here is an airport example, Liquids must be placed in a plastic bag when passing through security.
  4. General beliefs etc. Eg. It is thought that Trump will probably not be the best president in terms of respecting Human Rights.
  5. Unknown agent (action) Eg. Numerous walls are graffitied anonymously each year.  Click on the link to find information and a route to discover urban art in Valencia.
  6. Unknown agent (citation) Eg. In recent years many politicians are said to have been involved in illegal, corrupt activities.

And on that positive note I will wish you a lovely Friday and leave you with some links to practise further at your leisure.

  • This Fill the gaps uses advanced level tenses so I suggest you write your answer first before looking at the two options.
  • Here you need to type in the answers changing active to passive.
  • And this exercise from the same page gets you to focus on verbs with 2 objects.
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