Structures: passive voice advanced

Questions
Overview

The car is being repaired. - O carro está sendo reparado.


Most of the time we use the active voice because we focus on the person or thing doing something:

  • The police arrested her yesterday.

If we want to focus on the object of the sentence we can use the passive voice:

  • She was arrested yesterday (by the police).

Construction:

The passive voice is formed using the verb 'to be' (was) + 'past participle' (arrested).

When to use:

The above examples have the same meaning. We usually use the passive when we can't or don't want to specify the subject:

  • Thousands of travellers were stuck in the airport.

You can find examples of the most common tenses in the passive voice in the table below. Note that passive forms of the tenses that are not included in the table are theoretically possible but hardly ever used in real life.

Present tenses:

Tense Active Passive
Present Simple People speak English all over the world. English is spoken all over the world.
Present Continuous They are writing essays. Essays are being written.
Present Perfect They have bought new clothes. New clothes have been bought.

Past tenses:

Tense Active Passive
Past Simple They forgot the answer. The answer was forgotten.
Past Continuous Somebody was robbing the bank at 11 p.m. yesterday. The bank was being robbed at 11 p.m. yesterday.
Past Perfect They had brought a cake. A cake had been brought.

Future tenses:

Tense Active Passive
Future Simple They will deliver the letter on Monday. The letter will be delivered on Monday.
Future Perfect They will have finished the report by Friday. The report will have been finished by Friday.