Lesson 13: Passive Voice
In this section, we will be discussing the difference between active voice and how to properly use it in a sentence.
- To define passive voice
- To enumerate the different ways in which they can be used
- To provide examples of passive voice
In our last lesson, we learned about active voice, one of the ways in which verbs can be stated in a sentence. In this section, we’ll be focusing on passive voice. We’ll be discussing its definition, how it’s different from the active voice, and how it’s used.
Passive voice is when the subject is defined only in terms of the verb. It is less action-oriented.
Examples & Usage
This voice makes for longer, slower sentences. Passive voice gets to the subject by first passing through its modifiers. Below are the passive voice equivalents of our previous examples:
The novel Lolita was written by Vladimir Nabokov.
The computer was being typed on by her.
That Asian tour is being headlined by Lady Gaga.
That song was sung by Jason Mraz.
These sentences are best for when you want to emphasize a process (e.g. the wine was brewed in Santa Fe by a family of…), a setting (e.g. The farm was built in 1900 by…) or an action (e.g. The tedious sewing was executed by beautiful women who…). While they might be longer and generally more taxing to read, sentences in passive voice aren’t always a bad thing.
To sum this lesson up, we can say that passive voice is the longer way to say things—instead of directly stating that the subject moved the object, we focus on the object. We looked through various examples of this and we concluded that even if it isn’t the clearest or quickest way to get things done, it can sometimes be best way: especially when focusing on the verb or the object rather than the subject.
Next up, we’ll be learning about auxiliary verbs, which you may have learned about before as helping verbs. We’ll talk about the different examples of these verbs, how they’re used and why they’re important in English grammar. We will also be looking at numerous examples of how these verbs are used.