top of page

The Passive




The Passive is formed by placing the Object first followed by the correct form of the verb to be and a participle. If we make reference to the subject we use by + subject at the end of the structure


Object + to be + past participle (+ by + subject)


The form of to be which is used depends upon the tense or context of the phrase.




The passive is used consistently in both written and spoken English when:


a) The subject is unknown

My bike was stolen


b) The subject is obvious

A man has been arrested


c) The subject is not important

My bike will be returned


Significantly, the passive is used to emphasis the importance of the action over the subject.


At times, active phrases have two objects, in passive structures either object can be the lead object:



To have something done


If we get someone else to do something for us, we often use something similar to a passive structure "to have something done."

This is known as the causative


It is common to use this structure with get instead of have in spoken English

bottom of page