Passive voice


The passive voice is often used in describing processes, i.e. how a machine works. It is important for technical employees.

In an active sentence we talk about the subject of a sentence:
i.e. The police (subject) found (verb) the missing child (object).

In a passive sentence we talk about the object:
i.e. The missing child (object) was found (verb) by the police (subject).
Here the speaker is more interested in the child, rather than who found him/her.
“ was found ” is what we call the passive voice.

Note: In German the difference would be finden (active) and wurde gefunden (passive).


The passive is made using to be + past participle:

print irregular verb list print irregular verb list

A house is built every day (present simple)
A house was built last week (past simple)

Note: In passive sentences you can miss out the “doer”. If you do mention the subject however, then use the word by:
A house is built every day by someone (present simple)
The house was built last week by John (past simple)

Positive Sentences

Many emails are sent by our company every day.
In the past a lot of mistakes were made due to insufficient training.

Negative Sentences

The flight wasn’t cancelled yesterday.
My office isn’t cleaned often enough!


Were you asked a single question during the presentation?
Where were you born, by the way?
Is the machine turned on with this switch?

print print