Do you know how to use the passive voice to change the focus of a sentence? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how the passive voice is used.

A lot of olive oil is produced in Italy.
This book was written by Angela Davis.
The suspect will be released tomorrow.
This product has not been tested on animals.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Grammar B1-B2: Passives: 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

We use the passive voice to change the focus of the sentence.

My bike was stolen. (passive – focus on my bike)
Someone stole my bike. (active – focus on someone)

We often use the passive:

  • when we prefer not to mention who or what does the action (for example, it's not known, it's obvious or we don't want to say)
  • so that we can start a sentence with the most important or most logical information
  • in more formal or scientific writing.

How we make the passive

We make the passive using the verb be + past participle. We start the sentence with the object.

Avatar was directed by James Cameron.
Object + be + past participle

It is not always necessary to add who or what did the action.

My flight is cancelled.
Object + be + past participle

Only the form of be changes to make the tense. The past participle stays the same. Here are examples of the passive in its most common tenses.

Tense Example Structure
Present simple Alioli is made from oil, garlic and salt. is/are + past participle
Present continuous The hall is being painted this week. is/are being + past participle
Past simple John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. was/were + past participle
Past continuous The signs were being put up last week. was/were being + past participle
Present perfect Oranges have been grown here for centuries. has/have been + past participle
Past perfect When he got home, he found that his flat had been burgled. had been + past participle
Future simple The work will be finished next week. will be + past participle

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Grammar B1-B2: Passives: 2

Language level

Average: 4.2 (115 votes)

Hello Learn,

I suppose you don't understand some words in these sentences? You can find 'to put out' (which means 'to extinguish' and 'steal' ('stole' is the past simple form of 'steal') in the dictionary.

Please note that the first sentence is missing a word -- it should say 'put it out'.

If you have any more questions, we're happy to help -- please just be a little more specific about what you don't understand.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by redream on Sat, 20/06/2020 - 07:57

Hello! "They are thought that it was wild effort" I heard this sentence by FIFA game speaker. May you explain the meaning with details. (Such as I understood 'others thought about them that the effort was wild') Thank you for all help and support.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 21/06/2020 - 07:18

In reply to by redream


Hello redream,

The sentence is not grammatically correct as written.

We're happy to explain language on our pages and sometimes from other published sources such as media or literature. However, we don't generally comment on remarks made in passing by people who we do not know and whose English may be far from perfect.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Hamdy Ali on Mon, 15/06/2020 - 20:20

Choose 1-In my city where I live,new small projects(start-are started) every day. I really want the answer for this choice with explanation.

Submitted by Hamdy Ali on Tue, 09/06/2020 - 22:36

Choose 1-In my city where I live,new small projects(start-are started) every day. 2- He (was sent- has been sent) to prison for his crimes. Thank you very much.

Submitted by CGL on Fri, 29/05/2020 - 19:34

Hello, this sentence was shown as an example of a passive voice: "The fire service still haven't put out the fire". Where is the verb "to be" in this sentence?. Thank you very much for your help and support!.

Hello CGL

I'm afraid that the verb 'have not put out' is active, not passive. You could make it passive by saying something like 'The fire still hasn't been put out by the fire service.'

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jenny on Sat, 16/05/2020 - 21:03

Can we use present continuous passive for future arrangements? eg my car is being serviced next Monday

Hello Jenny,

Yes, that's perfectly correct. It's quite a common form when we don't know or don't want to say who or what is performing the action.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by H_L on Sat, 09/05/2020 - 15:49

Hello, Could you please direct me into a page here that explains how we change the passive sentences into active ones? I use lots of passive sentences in my writing which I've been told weakens my essays. Thank you for your help.