1.2. Actively Passive

Cloze Activity

The Passive

Look at these examples from the texts on the previous page:

Five people were being questioned by police.

London has been hit by a Tube strike.

The Chiswick building is going to be demolished.

Match the examples with the use of the passive:

1. The subject was blindfolded throughout while being submitted to a series of tests.
2. No smoking is permitted on the premises.
3. Mistakes have been made by the department.
4. I've been robbed!
5. The troll fell off the bridge and was carried away by the river.
6. The ballpoint pen was first invented by Lazlo Biro.
When the author of the activity is not known or it is unnecessary to say
To disclaim responsibility
To emphasise the activity or affected part
In impersonal style (for scientific articles and signs, etc.)

For stylistic purposes (e.g. to avoid changing the subject of a sentence)
Notice on brick wall
Image by hotzeplotz in Flickr. CC

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Note: in the passive, the verb MAKE adds to.

They made me work hard > I was made to work hard.

For practice on the passive, click on one of these links:

Practice 1

Practice 3

(verbs with 2 objects)

Practice 2

(verbs with 2 objects)

Practice 4


Choose the best form, active or passive,in the text below.


Citizen Kane and Randolph Hearst

People often choose Citizen Kane/Citizen Kane is often chosen 1among the lists of the best films that directors have ever made/have ever been made 2. It begins/It is begun 3with a scene in which newspaper proprietor Kane is on his deathbed, his last words being “Rosebud” . They spend the rest of the film/The rest of the film is spent 4 trying to find out what that means. Experts particularly praise it/The film is particularly praised 5 for its cinematography, music, and narrative structure, which were innovative for its time.

The writer based the character/The character was based 6 on William Randolph Hearst, millionaire and proprietor of over 30 newspapers. People credit Hearst/Hearst is credited 7 with creating yellow journalism and they famously blame him/was famously blamed 8 for pushing public opinion in the US into causing the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Hearst was enraged at the thinly disguised representation in the film and did all in his power/all in his power was done to prevent it being released, even though he hadn’t even seen it. The publishers didn't mention the film/No mention of the film was made 10in his papers but Hearst and his friends succeeded/it was succeeded by Hearst and his friends 11 in pressuring cinema chains to limit screenings.

citizen kane
Image by Octubre CCC in Flickr.  Public domain