Only verb with an object (transitive verbs) can be made passive.
They sent the letter. The letter was sent
They arrived late (cannot be made passive)
Verbs with both direct and indirect objects can be made passive in two ways.
They sent me the letter. The letter was sent to me / I was sent the letter
Some transitive verbs cannot be made passive in some uses. For example like and love
I like this place
Focus on important information
By placing the object at the begining of the sentence, the passive can change the focus of interest in a sentence
United were beaten by Arsenal
The passive is used in a variety of contexts . Notice how to agent (person who does the action) is unimportant, unknown or relear for the situation
Students are asked not to smoke
When the agent is unknown
My bike has bee stolen ! / Someone/they have stolen my bike
When the agent is obvious
Mr. Jones will be arrested
How something was done
The box was opened with a knife
The passive is often used with say, belive, know , understand, and similar verbs in reported speech to avoid an impersonal they or people
People say that John Wilson lives in N.Y
John Wilson is said to live in N.Y
Other verbs forms can also be reported in this way
They say John Wilson is travelling in Africa
John wilson is said to be travellin in Africa
People say John Wilson has arrived in Australia
John Wilson is said to have arrived in Australia
Have/Get something done
When someone does some work for us we can use have something done
Last Year I had new tiles put on the roof
I’m having my hair cut this afternoon
The same construction can describe bad luck caused by unspecified person :
Peter had his car stolen last week, and then he had his leg broken playing football
Using get can also suggest managing to do something difficult
It was difficult but we got the painting done in the end
This is an idiomatic way of expressing a pasive sentence where a thing or person needs some kind of action.
The floor is fifthy . It’s needs to be cleaned
The floor is fifthy. It needs cleaning
Verbs and prepositions
The preposition stays with the verb in a passive sentence.
People shouted at the Prime Minister during his speech.
The Prime Minister was shouted at during his speech.
Be born is a passive form but does not work, have an obvious passive meaning .
I was born near Kyoto
Make ( when meaning force) is followed by to in the passive
They made David work hard
David was made to work hard
Because the agent is unimportant , unknown or obvious it is often not included. If we want to say who does the action, we use by.
This letter was delivered this morning
This letter was deliverd this morning by courier
We use an active verb to say what does the subject does
My grandfatehr was a builder. He built this house in 1930
It’s a big company . It employs two hundred people
The passive is be ( is , was, have been ,etc) + past participle
Active : clean (s)
Passive : am, is , are cleaned
Somebody cleans this room every day
This room is cleaned every day
Passive : was / were cleaned
Somebody cleaned this room yesterday
This room was cleaned yesterday
Active :To clean
Passive : to be cleaned
Somebody will clean the room later
The room will be cleaned later
Active: have / has cleaned
Passive: have/ have been cleaned
The room looks nice. Somebody has cleaned it
The room looks nice. It has been cleaned
Active: had cleaned
Passive: Had been cleaned
The room looked nice. Somebody had cleaned it
The room looked nice. It had been cleaned
Active: Am/ is/ are cleaning
Passive: Am/ is/ are being cleaning
Somebody is cleaning the room at the moment
The room is being cleaning at the moment
Active: Was/ were cleaning
Passive: Was/ were being cleaned
Somebody was cleaning the room when I arrived
The room was being cleaned when I arrived
Some verbs can have two objects.
We gave the police the information = we gave the information to the police.
So it’s possible to make two passive sentences
The police were given the information or the information was given to the police
Other verbs that can have two objects are : ask, offer, pay, show, teach, tell
When we use these verbs in the passive , most often we begin with the person
I was offered the job but I refused it (they offered me the job)
Have you been shown the new machine? Has anybody shown you ?
The passive of doing/ seeing is being/done, being seen, etc
Active: I dont like people telling me what to do
Passive: I don’t like being told what to do
Sometimes you can use Get instead of be in the passive
There was a fight at the party but nobody got hurt
I’m surprised Anna didn’t get offered the job
You can use get to say that something happens to somebody or something specially if this unplanned or unexpected.
Our dog got run over by a car
You can use get only when things happen or change. You can’t use get in this sentence
He was a mystery man. Nothing was known about him (not got known
English Lesson 3 (Passive)