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8.2: Passive Verb

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  • Passive Verb Forms

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    Passive Voice

    The passive voice can be added to verbs, creating a difference in meaning and a difference in grammatical form from the active voice. In a clause with an active verb, the subject is responsible for the action described, as in this example:

    Faculty members often forget to lock their office doors when they go to the workroom to print something.

    Who did the forgetting? The answer is the faculty members -- that is, the subject of the sentence. We know this because the verb is active. Look at the difference in the following example where the verb is passive:

    Professor Mulden's purse was stolen from her office last week when she went to the computer room and forgot to lock her door.

    Who did the stealing? Certainly, not Professor Mulden! She was not responsible for the action; she only suffered the effects. We know this because the main verb is in a passive form. To make verbs in the passive, combine the following parts:

    Passive of the simple present:

    Subject + am, is, are + past participle

    A vote is taken

    Passive of the simple past:

    Subject + was, were + past participle

    A vote was taken

    Passive of the simple future:

    Subject + will be + past participle

    A vote will be taken

    Passive of the present perfect:

    Subject + has, have + been + past participle

    A vote has been taken

    Passive with modal:

    Subject + must, could, can + be + past participle

    A vote must be taken

    Exercise: Active vs. Passive Verbs

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    Identify the following underlined verbs in sentences as active (A) or passive (P).

    1. The jury voted at the end of the trial.
    2. Some jurors were told to leave at noon.
    3. All the jurors were leaving the building when the reporters came in.
    4. My sister Joan has been selected for jury two different times.
    5. Were you given any information about that murder case?
    6. Not every juror will be needed for the trial next week.
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