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When Do You Use Passive Voice?

Listen to a short video with examples of when to use passive voice.

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Passive voice is used when the subject is unknown, unimportant, or obvious.

In the case of an unknown subject, sentences like "My wallet was stolen" and "A man was killed" are used. The past form of the verb "to be" and the past participle of the main verb are used in these constructions.

When the subject is not important, sentences like "The new building was completed last week" and "Taxes will be raised" are used. In these cases, the focus is on the action rather than the subject.

If the subject is obvious, sentences like "Food should not be eaten on the bus" and "I was born in 1987" are used. The subject is understood but not explicitly mentioned.

Passive voice is formed using different verb forms such as past tense, modal verbs, and the base form of the verb "to be" along with the past participle.


• Unknown
Not known or familiar.

• Stolen
Taken without the owner's consent or knowledge.

• Wallet
A small folding case for carrying paper money, credit cards and other flat objects.

• Raised
Increased or made higher.

• Obvious
Easily understood or recognized.

• Born
Brought into existence or life.

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