January 30, 2017 by Nessa Palmer

Understanding The Passive Voice

Hi cats!! Today’s video is all about understanding the passive voice.



This is Nessa with ESL TOP TEN , with a Quick Tip for you.


I want you to pay attention to the next three sentences and tell me–which one is different grammatically?  I’m not talking about verb tense but something else.


Here we go:


#1. Hiro Called me yesterday afternoon.


Who called me?


#2. Police have arrested 2 suspects from last week’s bank robbery.


Who arrested them?


#3. The film E.T. was directed by Steven Spielberg in the 1980’s.


Who directed the film?


Did you catch that the 3rd sentence was in the passive voice? Why? Because the subject of the sentence, the movie E.T., didn’t actually do the action. It didn’t direct the movie! Steven Spielberg did that.


So why do we use the passive voice?


In the last example, I might use the passive voice (#3 The film E.T. was directed by Steven Spielberg in the 1980’s) if I was writing an article about the movie E.T..


I might also use the passive voice if we don’t know (or maybe we just don’t care) who did the action. Because it is clear from the context who is doing the action.


Here is a sentence we all use in the passive all the time, that you might not even know.


Here we go. Here you ready?


I was born in eastern Canada


This sentence is actually in the passive voice. What I’m saying is that my mother (and, of course, it’s my mother, not my father or my grandmother) gave birth to me. She HAD me in eastern Canada. I was born; I was had by my mother in eastern Canada. *The verb “to bear” can mean “to have.”


To wrap up, I want you to remember that the passive voice isn’t just used to spice up your English. It has a job to do. So when you use it, use it with purpose.


See you next time,

Luv, Nessa ❤️


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