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Do you know how to use the passive voice to change the focus of a sentence?

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

Intermediate: B1


Hello Fiona,

The difference is the difference between the present simple ('is') and the present perfect ('has been' -- notice that 'have been' is not correct because 'time' takes a singular verb). The first one is a more general statement that could refer to a long period of time and the second one refers to a more specific time that began sometime in the past and is still happening now.

I'd suggest you read more a bit more about this on our Present simple and Present perfect pages.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Another similar usage came up to me was that, why that we more often say “things have changed” but not “things are changed”?

Thanks for replying! Your explanation is helpful!

e.g, The work will be finished next week.
Could I rewrite the sentence as:
e.g, The work will have finished next week.
My appreciations.

Hello Via,

Yes, that is grammatically correct and the two sentences effectively mean the same thing. The first one is much more commonly used.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

This is the course that I try to capture very well and I enjoy learning passive voice.

I have a very simple question
Can I say
Nobody saw the cup
And how to change into passive.
Can I say " The cup wasn't seen by anybody. " or " The cup was seen by nobody "

Hi abo omar,

Yes! Nobody saw the cup is fine, and both of your passive sentences are fine too.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello! Could you add lesson about impersonal passive too?