Unit 7.2

Passive Structure

Syntax - 2 minutes

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Introduction

The passive form expresses the idea of something or someone receiving an action or experiencing a particular event or effect.

Form

In passive sentences, the subject is the receiver of the action.

The person or thing that is performing the action is called doer or agent. We can indicate the doer or the agent with the preposition by before them.

The structure of the passive voice is:
Subject + passive verb [to be + past participle] + (by + agent) + …

NOTE: We can also omit the agent if the relations between the agent and subject is not necessary or already clear.

Example

  • Obama was the first African-American to be elected as president of the USA.
  • The soldiers were sent to war by the government.
  • The people were bombed by terrorists.
  • The house was built in a year. 
  • The man was hit by a car.

Use

We use the passive voice when we focus on a person/thing that is experiencing the action more than the person/thing that is performing the action (the doer or the agent).

Summary

The passive form is used to express the idea of something or someone receiving an action or experiencing a particular event or effect.

The structure is: We start with the subject followed by the passive verb (formed by the verb to be and a past participle) and potentially followed by the preposition by and by the agent.

For example:
— “Spanish is widely spoken in North America by immigrant people.” = The focus is on the agent immigrant people by using the preposition by.
“Spanish is widely spoken in North America.” = The focus is on the language, Spanish, that is experiencing the action, and not on the agent of the action, which is the word “people” that is being implied here.
“Many people in North America speak Spanish.” = In the active structure, the subject performs the action of the verb.

NOTE: We can also omit the agent if the relations between the agent and subject is not necessary or already clear.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

Exercise

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