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: 4.1 (27 votes)

Hi EnglishZABJAA,

This sentence can't be changed into the passive. Only sentences with a transitive verb can be changed into the passive. (Transitive means the verb has an object, e.g. We bought the car - "the car" is the object of the verb "bought". It can be changed into the passive: The car was bought by us.)

In this sentence, the verb is "am", which is a linking verb, not a transitive verb.

I hope that helps.


LearnEnglish team

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Submitted by EnglishZABJAA on Mon, 06/03/2023 - 08:54


Best Kirk,

How do you say: "I love big cake" in the passive?

Hello EnglishZabjaa,

The object of the active sentence 'big cake' becomes the subject of the passive sentence. Then you use the verb 'be' plus the past participle of the verb 'love'. Following that, you can say 'by' plus the subject of the active sentence.

The result ('Big cake is loved by me') sounds a bit ridiculous, which goes to show that we don't use the passive in all situations!

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Bryan______ on Thu, 16/02/2023 - 02:43


Hello Team,

I'm struggling with the word "target". Which of these sentences is the correct passive form?

The programme targets junior students
1. The programme is targeted at junior students
2. Junior students are targeted by the programme.

Sentence 1 does not change the subject, but also seems to be correct. Am I missing something here?

Hello  Bryan______,

All of these sentences are correct. Target (like similar verbs such as aim and focus (on), and also verbs such as comprise, form and make up) can be used with the same meaning in both active and passive voice with essentially the same meaning.


The LearnEnglish Team

Junior students are being targeted by the program. I think is the passive of the sentence as passive requires a "be" form..

Submitted by bkbilal97 on Thu, 19/01/2023 - 12:02


I think there is a mistake in the first exercise in the following sentence;

The fire service still ___ the fire.
The options given are:
wasn't put out.
is put out.
haven't put out.

The third answer is supposed to be the correct one! But it should be "has not put out" since the agent is an "it."

Hi bkbilal97,

Actually, in British English it is common to use a third person plural verb form even for singular nouns, if the noun represents a group of people. Such nouns include government, teambandcompanygang and many more. For example, it's common to say The band are really good (as well as The band is really good), or The government have made an announcement (as well as The government has made ...). 


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by tunalee on Sat, 10/12/2022 - 18:53


Hello team
Kindly help me change this sentence to passive.
People thought that the cover was made of iron.
I am confused when the first and second verb are in past form. Will we use to infinitve or to have V3/ed form for the second verb?
Kind regards!

Hi tunalee,

I would say --> The cover was thought to be made of iron.

After "was thought" it's also common to use an adjective (e.g. It was thought necessary / It was thought impossible). However, it's not common to put an -ed verb form there (e.g. The cover was thought made of iron), so I think the full form thought to be made ... is preferred.

I hope that helps.


The LearnEnglish Team

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