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The ESL Student Guide to the Passive Voice

 
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englishlci



Joined: 01 Oct 2009
Posts: 48

PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:54 pm    Post subject: The ESL Student Guide to the Passive Voice Reply with quote

As you read about recent business trends and developments in newspapers and magazines, you will notice how often the passive form is used in sentences such as:

Grove Developments has been chosen to build the new sports center.

Most students will be able to understand this sentence; however, using the passive voice when you speak or write may not be as simple. It is important that you know, first, how it is formed, and secondly, you must know the past participle form of every verb you learn as this is essential to understand and make sentences in which the passive is used.

The passive voice is formed with an auxiliary verb, or several, and the past participle of the verb. Students should also be able to use the passive voice in the correct verb tense, so look through all the tenses and see how you pass verb forms from active to passive. Notice also how the subject changes.

Simple Present
They sell more than 6 million tins of beans every week. > More than 6 million tins of beans are sold every week

They say Kent Industries is thinking of expanding overseas. > Kent Industries is said to be thinking of expanding overseas.

The company employs 200 people. > Two hundred people are employed by the company.

Simple Past
An American company took them over last year. > They were taken over by an American company last year.

They made no attempts to explain the inconsistency in the figures. > No attempt was made to explain the inconsistency in the figures.

They won the contract in the face of strong competition. > The contract was won in the face of strong competition.

Present Perfect
We have lost 110 working days so far this year as a result of industrial unrest. > 110 working days have been lost so far this year as a result of industrial unrest.

We have put prices on the list for 2010. > Prices have been put on the list for 2010.

We have received new machines. > New machines have been received.

With Will
They will build their new factory on the outskirts of town. > Their new factory will be built on the outskirts of town.

They will send a prospectus to all potential investors. > A prospectus will be sent to all potential investors.

We will hold an extraordinary general meeting next Wednesday. > An extraordinary general meeting will be held next Wednesday.

With Can, May, or Might
People can know a product by different names in different countries. > A product can be known by different names in different countries.

A new client may buy one thousand units this week. > One thousand units may be bought this week by a new client.

Our company might build new facilities for the South American operation next year. > New facilities for the South American operation might be built next year.

The use of the Passive Voice is one of the essentials covered in any good ESL program. Together with the other basics, it will give you the solid foundation you need to communicate more fluently and effectively in English.

Rachel Clarkson is an English teacher at LCI and blogger at the ESL Blog.
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