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Passive Verbs‏‎ in English

A Transitive verb is one which takes an object while an Intransitive verb does not.

For more, see Transitive & Intransitive Verbs in English.

In grammar a Verb Tense is a form of a verb‎ used to indicate roughly the time when the action described by the verb takes place. Here we talk about 3 basic tenses: Past, Present and Future. (Some people talk about more than 3, however.)

Compare this with Verb Form which is the form of a verb in a particular tense, e.g. present simple, present continuous, etc.

For more, see Verb Tenses‏‎ & Forms in English Grammar.

A Participle is a form of a verb‎. There are two participles:

present participle: -ing, e.g. walking, thinking

past participle: -ed, e.g. walked, thought

For more, see Participles in English Grammar.

Verbs tell us about an action; they are sometimes called doing words or action words. Verbs describe what is happening:

run, walk, read, talk

For more, see Verbs‏‎ in English Grammar,

The Bare Infinitive is the base form of the verb‏‎:
be, have, walk...

The Full Infinitive has to at the beginning:
to be, to have, to walk...

Both are known as the Infinitive.

For more, see Infinitives in English Grammar.

Cat scared by something.To make a verb passive, we use the verb be conjugated in the same tense used in the active voice‏‎ and change the main verb into the past participle.

These are the main patterns used:

Simple Tenses

{be} + {Past Participle}


Eric kisses Amanda.


Amanda is kissed by Eric.


Eric kissed Amanda.


Amanda was kissed by Eric.

Continuous Tenses‏‎

{be} + {being} + {past participle}


Eric is kissing Amanda.


Amanda is being kissed by Eric.


Eric was kissing Amanda.


Amanda was being kissed by Eric.

Perfect Tenses‏‎

{have} + {been} + {past participle}


Eric has kissed Amanda.


Amanda has been kissed by Eric.


Eric had kissed Amanda.


Amanda had been kissed by Eric.

When we use auxiliary verbs‏‎, we add them to the front of the structures above:

{modal/auxiliary/be going to} + {be} + {past participle}

Amanda could be kissed by Eric.
Amanda is going to be kissed by Eric.

{modal/auxiliary/be going to} + {be} + {being} + {past participle}

Amanda might be being kissed by Eric.

{modal/auxiliary/be going to} + {have} + been} + {past participle}

Amanda will have been kissed by Eric.
Amanda ought to have been kissed by Eric.

To make the passive Infinitives follow these patterns:



{to} + {infinitive}

Someone ought to help him.


{to} + {be} + {past participle}

He ought to be helped.



{to} + {have} + {past participle}

Someone ought to have helped him.


{to} + {have} + {been} + {past participle}

He ought to have been helped.

Sometimes you can use get instead of be to make the sentence a little more informal.

The phone box was vandalized last night.
The phone box got vandalized last night.

This is generally used in speech rather than writing.

N.B. Not all active verbs can be turned into passive. Verbs which cannot be followed by objects cannot be used in the passive voice‎. These types of verbs are called intransitive verbs.

Some intransitive verbs are: appear, arrive, come, cry, die, go, happen, occur, rain, sleep, stay, walk. These verbs cannot be used in the passive voice‏‎.

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