Passive Verbs‏‎ in English

Sentence Structure

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


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.

Image © (davide)

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