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The Passive in English

This section considers the form and the reasons when it's appropriate to use passive verbs.

The rule

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There are many rules and conventions about the passive in English. The rules fall into two main categories:

  • rules about forming the passive


  • rules about when and how to use the passive.

This unit revises the formation of the passive. However, the main focus is to help you to use the passive correctly and more effectively to achieve your writing purpose.

The choice of active or passive determines what a sentence is basically about and must suit the purpose of the piece of writing.

Every sentence has one or more participants - people/things etc. that are directly involved in the event or situation described by the sentence. An important participant in a sentence describing an action is the actor – the one who performs the action.