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)

Submitted by amrita_enakshi on Fri, 28/08/2020 - 08:30

Hello Could you please help me with the following quassi-passive voice change? Active : Cheese is a milk product. Passive : Cheese is a product which is made of milk. Am I correct ?
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Submitted by Smiley1 on Tue, 18/08/2020 - 09:32

Hello admins, Please tell me the difference between 'I have no story to be told' and 'I have no story to tell'. Does it depend on how the speaker see the story??

Hi Smiley1,

Interesting examples! Their meanings are very similar. But:

  • The first one (no story to be told) focuses more on the story, since be told is a passive verb referring to the story ('a story is told').
  • The second one (no story to tell) focuses more on the speaker, since tell is an active verb and the doer of the verb is the speaker.

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by alekanka on Wed, 15/07/2020 - 20:51

Hello! I've never quite understood how to use passive with "be going to do smt" form. I've seen both "will be done" and "be going to be done". Which of them is more correct and why? Thanks in advance
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Thu, 23/07/2020 - 15:06

In reply to by alekanka


Hello alekanka,

Both of those can work -- it really depends on how you see the future. You can see an explanation of this on our Talking about the future page.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Karan Narang on Wed, 15/07/2020 - 04:36

I have been got good mark by test although I have some doubt many people who use these sentence passive voice like I am tired, I was gone market yesterday and I will be opened my new shop by tomorrow. These sentence meaning whether passive or active voice can u explain it.

Hello Karan Narang,

Although it looks like a passive sentence, 'I am tired' is simply the pronoun 'I' + the verb 'be' + the adjective 'tired'. Some past participles are routinely used as adjectives, and of course we can use the verb 'be' with them. It can sometimes be tricky to know when a sentence is passive or simply 'be' + an adjective, but especially in informal situations, it's probably not a passive verb.

I'm afraid the other two sentences you mention are not grammatically correct.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Learn on Thu, 02/07/2020 - 17:28

Hello ! I found some difficulty with this two sentences please : - The fire service still have not put out. - I don't know who stole my bike. thank you.

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.