Goals

  • Practise changing voice: from active sentences to passive, and passive sentences to active.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will practise turning actives into passives, and passives into actives.

Activity 1 in the right hand menu presents students with active sentences. Ask students to work individually, in pairs, or in groups and to write down a passive version of the sentence.

If you need extra help, look at the steps below. You can also check the page on actives and passives in the 'Professional development' pages, found in the 'Content type' menu to the left.

  • Two guards examined the BMW. → The BMW was examined by two guards.

First, move the Direct Object (the BMW) so that it comes before the verb (or verb phrase) instead of after it.

Next, change the verb phrase to include a suitable form of the auxiliary verb be and a following verb in past participle form. Here we have a past tense verb (examined) so we need a past tense form of be.

Finally, move the old Subject to the position after the verb phrase and add by before it: so Two guards ... becomes ... by two guards.

Note that there are sometimes multiple options for placing the by phrase. In addition, the by phrase can be left out entirely for an agentless passive.

  • Critics were attacking him on all sides. → 
    1. He was being attacked by his critics on all sides.
    2. He was being attacked on all sides by his critics.
    3. He was being attacked on all sides.

Activity 2 in the right hand menu presents students with passive sentences. Ask students to work individually, in pairs, or in groups and to write down an active version of the sentence.

Note that an agentless passive with no by phrase does not give you a clear way to determining the Subject of the active version. The final two examples in Activity 2 reflect this, and offer two possibilities for solving the problem. What other possible solutions do students come up with?

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