Active sentences usually focus on who did the action:
- My sister broke the window.
Whereas passive sentences usually focus on who or what suffered the effects of the action:
- The window was broken.
On most occassions the agent (who did the action) is not mentioned but, if relevant, it can be mentioned after the preposition by.
- The window was broken by my sister.
- Don Quixote was written by Cervantes.
Passive structures have these elements:
- the passive subject (my sister)
- verb be in the right tense (the same tense that would be used in the corresponding active structure)
- the past participle of the lexical verb
- only if necessary, the agent (by + ______)
CHANGING ACTIVE SENTENCES INTO THE PASSIVE
- The object of the active sentence becomes the subject in the passive structure
- verb be in the same tense as the active verb in the active structure
- past participle of the main verb
- the subjet of the active sentence becames the object in the passive structure (by + agent)
- Peter builds a house. -> A house is built by Peter.
- They were cooking dinner when we arrived. -> Dinner was being cooked when we arrived.
- I will finish it tomorrow. -> It will be finished tomorrow.
PASSIVE SENTENCES WITH TWO SUBJECTS (ONLY ESO-4)
Some active sentences have both a direct and an indirect object. In English both can be the subject in a passive structure. The indirect object is introduced by to in the passive sentence.
- ACTIVE: My sister asked me a question.
- PASSIVE 1: A question was asked to me.
- PASSIVE 2: I was asked a question.
- ACTIVE. The teacher explained the exercise to the students.
- PASSIVE 1: The exercise was explained to the students.
- PASSIVE 2: The studens were explained the exercise.