Active and Passive
Passive sentences move the focus of the sentence from the subject to the object.
- Someone stole my computer! (active)
- My computer was stolen! (passive)
Possible reasons for using the passive are:
The agent is not important
- The store was closed when I went. (who closed the store is not important)
- I can't use the elevator because it is broken down. (what caused it to break down is not important)
- I couldn't buy any tickets for the concert because it was sold out. (who sold all the tickets is not important)
The agent isn't known
- His bicycle was stolen. (we do not know who stole the bicycle)
- My living room window was broken when I got home yesterday. (we do not know who or what broke the window)
- My bag has been taken. (we do not know who took my bag)
The agent is not needed or already understood
- The criminal was arrested in front of the station. (of course, the police arrested the criminal)
- Romeo and Juliet was written hundreds of years ago. (of course, Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet)
- The subway is used quite a bit in this city. (of course, people use the subway)
Because of the above reasons, it is usually not important to include "by + agent" at the end of a passive sentence.
- My bag was stolen by somebody.
- The highway was built by people in 1997.
- Champagne is made by people in France.
In informal language, we can avoid using the passive by using the impersonal subjects like "you" or "they." In this meaning, we use the following subjects:
- You = people in general
- We = people in general including the speaker
- They = people in an authority position (government, police, etc.) This is also used to exclude the speaker and listener and refer to another unrelated group of people.
- They made this highway in 1997. (active)
- This highway was made in 1997. (passive)
- You can use the pool in the summer. (active)
- The pool can be used in the summer. (passive)
- We play soccer in my country all year round. (active)
- Soccer is played in my country all year round. (passive)
It is very common for past participles to be used as adjectives.
- The wall is fixed.
- I am so tired right now.
- She was really surprised when I told her the news.
- The car door is scratched.
Open the exercise to begin the activity. Follow the instructions in the document.