Boston school coming soon! Learn more here

Passive Voice

Learn how to use the passive voice in English. It is very important know how to identify and use the English passive voice.  This free English lesson includes exercises and makes understanding the passive voice easy.

Study how, why and when to use the passive voice in English. Keep reading to download this free English lesson!

Let’s study the passive voice in English!

Why we use the passive voice:

We use  the passive voice when we want to make the the object more important than the person or agent who performs the action.  We also use the passive voice when we don’t know who or what performed the action, or when it is clear/obvious who or what performed the action

In English we usually use the active voice.  The active voice is used when the subject performs the action. However, it also is very important to know how to identify and use the passive voice in English. An example of the passive voice is “Larry was born in Miami.”

We don’t normally say :

(Active Voice)

The American people elect a President every four years.” 

(It is obvious that the American people perform the action.)

We normally say:

(Passive Voice)

“The President is elected every four years.”   

The ‘active object’ becomes the new Subject.

How to form the passive voice:

1. Bring the active object to the beginning of the sentence as the ‘subject’

2. Add the proper tense of the verb ‘to be’

3. Add the V3 form of the main verb

4. If necessary, add the agent who or that performed the action using ‘by’.

Passive voice forms:

These are the passive forms of all the verb tenses in English:





BY.. (if needed)

Present Simple


am / is / are


by the sound of birds.

Past Simple

was / were

Future Simple (Will)

will be

Future Simple (Be going to)

am / is / are going to be


Present Continuous


am / is / are + being

taught the passive voice

by the teacher.

Past Continuous

was / were + being

Future Continuous

will be + being


Present Perfect

The street

has / have + been


by the county.

Past Perfect

had been

Future Perfect

will have been

Present Perfect Continuous

has / have + been being

Past Perfect Continuous

had been being

Future Perfect Continuous

will have been being

*The continuous forms are rarely used in the passive voice because they sound awkward.

Passive voice with get:

We can sometimes use get to form the English passive voice, but only when showing change. It is considered informal.

How did your bike get stolen?  My bike got stolen because I forgot to lock it.

When did you get hurt?  I got hurt yesterday when I was playing soccer.  I got kicked in the leg.

Passive voice with modal verbs:

We can also use modal verbs to form the passive voice.


The windows are very dirty. They must be cleaned! They should be cleaned before we go out.

Dictionaries should not be used in LANGUAGE ON English Schools.  Dictionaries may be used for homework.

What could be done to help fix the economy?  Taxes should be lowered.

Download this FREE English lesson with exercises!

Free English Lesson PDF Download

Passive Voice Exercises and Practice!

A. Change the active sentences below into the passive voice. 

1.  The city is repairing the bridge this month.


2.  They knocked over the vase as they ran down the hall.


3.  Companies have introduced many new forms of technology in recent years.


4. They were electing a new president when I was in Bolivia.


5.  Even though they hadn’t finished their homework, they decided to go out.


6.  People can make a lot of mistakes when they file their own taxes.


7.  People must not leave their pets or children in locked cars.


8. The students will finish the course in May.


9. Henry Miller wrote Tropic of Cancer in 1934.


B. Change the following passive voice sentences to the active voice

1. The waterbed was destroyed by the angry cat.


2. The 2025 Academy Awards will be hosted by a famous comedian.


C.  Write passive voice questions for another student or the teacher about a historic or famous sight in their country.   Ask your partner the questions, discuss, and take notes. 

Example:  Who was the Eiffel Tower built by?

1. ____________________________________________________________________?

2. ____________________________________________________________________?

3. ____________________________________________________________________?

4. ____________________________________________________________________?

5. ____________________________________________________________________?

D. After you have interviewed a classmate or the teacher with the questions above, write a short paragraph reporting what you learned from them. Use the passive voice as much as possible. 

Download this FREE English lesson with exercises!

Free English Lesson PDF Download

I hope that you found this lesson helpful. If you have any questions, please email us or just comment below. Make sure to sign up to our free newsletter.

Thank you! Now, get our there and use the passive voice!


Do you need to improve your English? See the locations of our English language schools in the United States.

Take our FREE Proficiency Test and

Discover your English Proficiency Level!