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Passive Voice

The passive voice is a structure that allows you to make a statement without knowing who performed the action of the sentence: The house was destroyed. Or the person who performed the action is placed in a passive position in the sentence: The house was destroyed by soldiers.

An active sentence is commonly structured subject 1 verb 1 direct object. A passive sentence changes that structure to direct object used as the subject 1 to be 1 past participle 1 by 1 subject used as the object of the preposition. Let’s compare the two structures:

Active SentencesPassive Sentences
Kim finds the dog.The dog is found by Kim.
We buy his car.His car is bought by us.
The girls stole the purse.The purse was stolen by the girls.
They solved the problem.The problem was solved by them.

The verb to be in the passive sentences is conjugated in the same tense as the verb in the active sentences. Look how the various tenses appear in the passive:

TensePassive Sentences
PresentThe house is destroyed by the soldiers.
PastThe house was destroyed by the soldiers.
Present PerfectThe house has been destroyed by the soldiers.
Past PerfectThe house had been destroyed by the soldiers.
FutureThe house will be destroyed by the soldiers.
Future PerfectThe house will have been destroyed by the soldiers.

Only in the present and past tenses is there a difference between the habitual form of the conjugation and the conjugation for an action in progress or incomplete:

  • the house is destroyed/the house is being destroyed
  • the house was destroyed/the house was being destroyed

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