Passive Summary



Passive Diagnostic: identify specific points that need review

Passive—Focus on the Object

Receiver as Subj: place focus on the receiver of the action


My sister had (bore) a baby.

A baby was born.

The doctor helped the baby.

The baby was helped by the doctor.

*What was happened?


DNA gene coding

The human genome is being mapped by scientists. (too many to mention)

Better cancer treatment is expected by everyone.

This knowledge can be used by anyone.

detective with magnifying glass

An emergency call was received by the police late last night. 

An emergency call was received [by someone] late last night.

Verbs w/ Two Objects: place focus on the receiver or the item received


Our math teacher assigned us a project.

A project was assigned to us by our math teacher.

We were assigned a project by our math teacher.


We were announced the project.

The project was explained me.
The project was explained to me.

Never Passive: recognize intransitive verbs, which cannot be passive!

Building destroyed in earthquake

The earthquake happened on April 3, 2009 in Italy.
*The earthquake was happened on April 3, 2009 in Italy.

The baby weighed 7 lbs.
*The baby was weighed 7 lbs.

Passive Gerund / Infinitive: express timing and voice in gerund and infinitive (nonfinite) clauses

Jack remembered leaving the door unlocked.

Jack remembered having left the door unlocked.

He was told to lock the door.

Jack was thought to have locked the door.

Passive - "Get"

Get-Passives: express circumstance or emotional response to an action or event

bird on head

Man, I got hit!     "A pigeon got me!

I got upset(participle modifier / adj. –not a true passive) 

I got fouled "Poor me!"

I got myself cleaned up.   "I did it myself"

I got my hair washed.   "I made it happen."

Participle Modifiers   See Adj & Modifiers


Reduced Modifying Clauses

Clause Reduction 1: shorten modifying clauses with be verb forms

talk show 

 The seat [that was] next to me was empty.

The woman [who is] seated behind me is eating popcorn. 

A talk show [which is] trying to improve its rating may plan a fight. 

Clause Reduction 2: shorten modifying clauses with active verb forms


 The subcommittee [which meets] next week will discuss a new bill.

 The subcommittee meeting next week will discuss a new bill.

Past Participle Clauses: reduce passive sentences to past-participial modifying clauses

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge, [which was] designed by Charles Ellis, ...

The Golden Gate Bridge, designed by Charles Ellis, ...

Present Participle Clauses: reduce active sentences to present-participle modifying clauses


The federal agency, which was locating the prison on Alcatraz,
preferred the isolated location of the island.

The federal agency, which was located in San Francisco,
preferred the isolated location of the island.

Audio Practice

Been / Being: contrast the sounds of been and being

Doctor spanking baby

We've been quiet.   (present perfect - active)
We're being quiet.   (present progressive - active)

We've been seen by Dr. Allen.   (present perfect - passive)
We 're being seen by Dr. Allen (present progressive - passive)

In Context

Passive in Context: identify passive sentences in the context of an article

microscopic gene image

"Mapping the human genome has been compared with putting a man on the moon, ..."

The medical benefits of genome science, scientists agree, must be used to benefit all people, not only a privileged few.

Participle w/ Preps: express reaction to circumstances or things


The children were interested in hearing his story.
The press was excited about the President's speech.

The President is pleased with the response.
The President is pleased with how the people responded.

He is interested in and excited about his new project.

Participle + Prep: pair participle modifiers with prepositions

Paparazzi camera flash

Celebrities are concerned ____(at, with, by, about) the activities of the Paparazzi.