English Exercises > passive voice exercises

Passive voice

Downloadable worksheets:
Introducing the "Passive Voice" (1) - Basic rules for Upper elementary and Intermediate students
Level: intermediate
Age: 10-14
Downloads: 5525

Active and Passive
Level: intermediate
Age: 10-17
Downloads: 4329

Level: elementary
Age: 7-17
Downloads: 4077

Level: intermediate
Age: 14-17
Downloads: 3619

Passive Voice
Level: intermediate
Age: 14-17
Downloads: 2686

The American Dream
Level: advanced
Age: 15-17
Downloads: 23



Posted Values
Passive Voice

Use of Passive

      Passive voice is used when the focus is on the action. It is not important or not known who or what is performing the action.

         Example: My bike was stolen.

      In the example above, the focus is on the fact that my bike was stolen. I do not know, however, who did it.

      Sometimes a statement in passive is more polite than in active voice, as the following example shows:

         Example: A mistake was made.

      In this case, I focus on the fact that a mistake was made, but I do not blame anyone (e.g. You have made a mistake.).

Form of Passive

      Subject + finite form of to be + Past Participle (3rd column of irregular verbs)

         Example: A letter was written.

      The passive forms of a verb are created by combining a form of the "to be verb" with the past participle of the main verb. The passive can be used, also, in various tenses.
Let's take a look at the passive forms of "design."

Passive Verb Formation



Auxiliary in singular

Auxiliary in plural

Past Participle


The car/ cars




Present Perfect

The car/ cars

has been

have been



The car/ cars




Past Perfect

The car/ cars

had been

had been



The car/ cars

will be

will be


Future Perfect

The car/ cars

will have been

will have been


Present Progressive

The car/ cars

is beig

are being


Past Progressive

The car/ cars

was being

were being



      When rewriting active sentences in passive voice, note the following:
1. The object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence.
2. The finite form of the verb is changed (to be + past participle).
3. The subject of the active sentence becomes the object of the passive sentence (or is dropped).

A sentence cast in the passive voice will not always include an agent of the action. For instance if a gorilla crushes a tin can, we could say "The tin can was crushed by the gorilla." But a perfectly good sentence would leave out the gorilla: "The tin can was crushed." Also, when an active sentence with an indirect object is recast in the passive, the indirect object can take on the role of subject in the passive sentence:


Mother gave John a book.


A book was given to John by his mother.


John was given a book.


Only transitive verbs (those that take objects) can be transformed into passive constructions. Furthermore, active sentences containing certain verbs cannot be transformed into passive structures. To have is the most important of these verbs. We can say "He has a new car," but we cannot say "A new car is had by him." We can say "Josefina lacked finesse," but we cannot say "Finesse was lacked.

Let’ s do some exercises!

     •      His whole apartment …………. (REDECORATE) this month.

       An exam …………… (PREPARE) by my teacher.

      My apartment …………. (CLEAN) thoroughly every day.

      Bob …………. (BELIEVE) to be a very nice person.

      Smoking ……………… (NOT/ALLOW) in churchs and hospitals.

      My dog …………. (HIT) by a car week ago.

       I …………… (GIVE) a present only once in my life.

      My cat …………. (FIND) in the park and …………. (BRING) home today morning.

     •      My work …………. (FINALLY/FINISH) next month.

       A final decision ……………. (MAKE) yesterday.

      ………………. (SPEAKING LOUDLY/FORBID) in the church?

      French …………….. (STUDY) by more and more of my friends now. 



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