Passive voice misuse in English with exercises Lesson 76.

Lesson 76


1/ Sentence Practice

Peter arrives at the University with the intention of attending the inaugural lecture. The inaugural lecture was given two hours earlier. Peter did not know who had given the lecture or what it had been about.

Having been informed by email almost everybody at the university attended, with the exception of Peter of course.

Emails were designed to communicate information but not of an urgent nature. Peter is rather old school in that respect and only consults his emails at night.

He thought that SMS was developed for transmitting urgent information, a sort of latter-day telegram. Peter was surprised by the number of students starting at the university the same day.

All students are required to consult their emails three times a day.

Communication by email is expected to be the norm in academic circles before long.

He should have known better.

There are reported to have been 250 billion emails sent each and every day in 2009.

It is thought that this figure has doubled since.

Peter was given this information by Sara and she is known for her accuracy in such matters.

You could say that the information was given to Peter by Sara for a reason but Peter had not realised the relevance.

So as he has a couple of hours to kill, he decides to attend an open lecture that is just about to start in the main hall.

It is all about European economies and as Peter is going to study Spanish, he finds that some aspects of the lecture are quite interesting.

Tourism is considered to be Spain’s largest industry.

Without tourism, it is estimated that the GDP of Spain would fall noticeably.

The lecture continues but Peter starts to daydream and think about his present situation.

Peter is ready to dive into his studies, as it has been a long-standing ambition of his to go on to further education.

He wanted to kick off with the inaugural lecture, but it was not to be. He was now ready and unless something crops up,

there shouldn’t be more hiccups. Instead of whiling away his time, he could now knuckle down to some serious study.

He was going to make up for lost time and press on with the task at hand.  It does not know what is lying ahead but he had

ended up at university because he had wanted to.

He had decided to work really hard during the week until Friday when he can knock off studying early and wind down over the


He had learned how to pace himself and avoid getting snowed under with work.

All these skills would be potentially useful to him.


2/Vocabulary Practice

  • abrupt
  • anachronism
  • annual
  • antique
  • century
  • chronological
  • contemporary
  • decade
  • duration
  • elapse
  • era
  • eternal
  • to expire
  • frequency
  • instantaneous
  • interim
  • interval
  • lapse
  • lifetime
  • long-standing
  • millennium
  • obsolete
  • overdue
  • period
  • permanent
  • phase
  • postpone
  • prior
  • prompt
  • provisional
  • punctual
  • seasonal
  • simultaneously
  • span
  • spell
  • stint
  • subsequent
  • temporary
  • timely
  • to crop up
  • to dive in
  • to kick off
  • while away
  • to tread water
  • to end up
  • to knock off
  • to knuckle down
  • to lay off
  • to lie ahead
  • to make up
  • to press ahead with
  • to set out
  • to snow under
  • to take on
  • to tide over
  • to wind down
  • lie detector
  • spin-off
  • power cut
  • The inaugural lecture was given
  • to dive into
  • Having been informed by email
  • Emails were designed
  • SMS was developed for
  • All students are required to
  • Communication by email is expected to be
  • There are reported to have been
  • He wanted to kick off
  • unless something crops up
  • whiling away his time
  • to pace himself
  • All these skills
  • be potentially useful


Passive voice

The active voice is often referred to as the normal voice.

However the passive voice is necessary as we might not know or have the active subject.

Active voice (simple sentence with one clause)

= Subject + Verb + Object

Here the object receives the action of the verb.

Sandra has bought the tickets.

All the elements of the sentence are important in the active voice.

Passive voice = Subject + Verb + by + Passive Agent

Sometimes in the passive voice we remove the passive agent as it is not considered important.

The subject of the active voice (active subject)

becomes the passive agent in the passive voice and is introduced by the preposition “by”.

The tickets have been bought (by Sandra).

The tense changes in the passive voice too.

Use of the passive voice:

Firstly, all the importance is given to the active agent:

The object of my active voice becomes the subject in the passive voice.

Secondly, the active subject is unknown.

I had my wallet stolen.

Here, I don’t know who stole my wallet,

so I have no passive agent in my sentence.

Thirdly, we use the passive for structure variety and flow.

if I take the object from my previous sentence.

To do the tense transformations from active voice to passive voice please review the following points:

Past participle, irregular verbs and tense review.

Transformations when going from the active voice to the passive voice:

What tense to use?

Example: Her visa + “to be” + past participle of the main verb

“To extend” becomes “extended”

We take the tense used in the active voice  to conjugate the verb “to be” in the passive voice

and add the past participle of the main verb of the active voice.

To extend – extended

Firstly, Simple Present:

They extend her visa. – Active voice

Her visa is extended. – Passive voice

Secondly, Present Continuous:

They are extending her visa.

Her visa is being extended.

Thirdly, Simple Past:

They extended her visa.

Her visa was extended.

Fourthly, Present Perfect:

They have extended her visa.

Her visa has been extended.

Fifthly, Past Perfect:

They had extended her visa.

Her visa had been extended.

Sixthly, Simple Future:

They will extend her visa.

Her visa will be extended.

Seventhly, Future Perfect:

They will have extended her visa.

Her visa will have been extended.

Eightly, Simple Conditional:

They would extend her visa.

Her visa would be extended.

Ninethly, Conditional Perfect:

They would have extended her visa.

Her visa would have been extended.

More about passive and active voices:

We can also distinguish personal from impersonal passive.

Firstly, personal passive = the object of the active sentences becomes the subject of the passive sentence.

So all transitive verbs can form a personal passive.

A transitive verb means that it can be followed by an object.

Example : She built a new house. A new house was built.

Secondly, impersonal passive means that the verb cannot have an object.

They are intransitive verbs.

They cannot form a personal passive sentence.

(Meaning there is no object in the active voice that can be used as the subject of the passive form.)

In this case and in order to use the same verb in both the active and passive voice you will need the preposition “It”.

Example : They said, becomes… It is said.

More examples of transformations:

His dog + to be + past participle of main verb

(To leave behind, becomes, left behind).

We take the tense used in the active voice to conjugate the verb “to be” in the passive voice.

Then we add the past participle of the main verb of the active voice.

To leave behind, becomes, left behind.

Firstly, simple present. They leave the dog behind (active voice)

Their dog is left behind (passive voice)

Secondly, present continuous.

They are leaving the dog behind (active voice)

“Their dog” or “the dog” is being left behind (passive voice)

Thirdly, simple past. They left the dog behind (active voice)

The dog was left behind (passive voice)

Fourthly, present perfect.

They have left the dog behind (active voice)

The dog has been left behind (passive voice)

Fifthly, past perfect.

They had left the dog behind (active voice)

The dog had been left behind (passive voice)

Sixthly, simple future.

They will leave the dog behind (active voice)

The dog will be left behind (passive voice)

Seventhly, future perfect.

They will have left the dog behind (active voice)

The dog will have been left behind (passive voice)

Eighthly, simple conditional.

They would leave a dog behind (active voice)

The dog would be left behind (passive voice)

Ninthly, conditional perfect.

They would have left the dog behind (active voice)

The dog would have been left behind (passive voice)

Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers

Have you changed your phone number yet?

No phone numbers were designed to be kept.

All students are required to register, have you done so?

I was about to do it when the phone rang.

Crime is reported to be on the increase, do you think that is true?

I certainly do, I had my bicycle stolen yesterday.

The diesel engine was developed by the Germans ,wasn’t it?

Yes I believe it was.

Did you hear what is being said about the elections?

Yes, it is was on the radio this morning.

Can we make up for lost time?

It all depends on the weather.

Is it true that you are overworking?

Yes, I am snowed under at the moment.

How much time has elapsed since we arrived?

I would say about three hours.

Do you think that national service is a good idea?

It is a bit of an anachronism today.

Have you had your annual checkup?

Not yet but I haven’t forgotten about it.


Hi, let’s discover some consonant sounds together. ta The tongue goes from the front of the palate, so behind the front teeth downwards, that’s when the air is released. ta Tell, Tiger ,Thames, thought, toddler, Thailand, turtle.
let’s repeat
Tell, Tiger ,Thames, thought, toddler, Thailand ,turtle.

Now test time how would you pronounce these words?

The answer is ought, watched, attorney.
That’s it for today see you soon.

Exercises Lesson 76

Comprehension Practice

Vocabulary Practice

Grammar Practice