Passive Sentence

What Is a Passive Sentence? (with Examples)

homeglossaryPassive Sentence
In a passive sentence, the subject does not perform the action in the sentence. In fact, the action is performed on it. For example:

More Examples of Passive Sentences

Here are some more examples of passive sentences:

Anita was driven to the theatre. (In this example, Anita did not perform the action of the verb to drive. The action was done to her. She was the recipient of the action.)

  • Nowadays, black kites are protected.
  • (The action is being done to the subject, black kites.)
  • The olives are stoned and crushed in this room.
  • (The action is being done to the subject, The olives.)

    With a Passive Sentence, Use By to Show the Actor

    In a passive sentence, the person or thing doing the action (the actor) is usually preceded by the word by. For example:
    • Anita was driven to the theatre by Carla.
    • Nowadays, black kites are protected by law.
    • The olives are stoned and crushed in this room by my son.
    The opposite of a passive sentence is an active sentence, in which the subject does perform the action of the verb.

    Some Interactive Examples

    Here are some interactive examples:

    • My cousin tackled the shoplifter.
    • Heidi smashed the vase.
    • Carl sounded the alarm in a panic.
    • Carl sounded the alarm due to the panic.

    A Quick Test

    hot grammar tip

    Hot Tip

    Many companies do not like their staff to write using passive sentences.  Therefore, a number of grammar checkers will often suggest an active version of your passive sentence. However, if you prefer the passive version, stick with it.

    Passive Sentences Are Useful

    Passive sentences are quite useful if youíre trying not to apportion blame.

    The document had been released into the public domain.
    (passive sentence Ė no blame)

    Look at the active version:

    Jackie released the document into the public domain.

    Here are some good reasons to use a passive sentence:

    When you donít want to reveal who was responsible (some more examples)

    Bad advice was given.
    A serious failing in standing operating procedures had occurred.

    When the doer of the action is general, unknown or obvious

    Pistachio nuts are grown in Iran.
    His parade uniform was stolen.
    English and German are spoken in many Cornish campsites.
    The windows must be secured.
    Divorces are made in heaven. (Oscar Wilde)

    To put something you want to emphasize at the start of your sentence

    An estimated 258,000 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes.

    To use the same subject twice (e.g. once in an active clause and once in a passive one)

    Martin crashed into the barrier and was tossed in the crowd.

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