Passive Voice: Intermediate & Advanced Exercises (and Explanation)

English Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Language Focus: A review of the passive voice in contrast to the active voice

Grammar Worksheet: active-passive-voice-worksheet.docx (scroll down to study the exercises online)

Jump to: Intermediate Exercises, Advanced Exercises


Note: For a detailed explanation of why we use the passive voice, please read this lesson.

Review of the Passive Voice


Only sentences that have the object of a verb can be changed to the passive voice.

Active voice:   I           invited           John.

[subject] +  [verb]  +    [object]

Passive voice: John was invited by me.

In a passive sentence, the object of the verb (in the active sentence) becomes the subject. This is the structure for the passive voice:

John    was     invited   (by me).

[subject] + [BE + Past Participle] (by actor)

The (by actor) part of the sentence is optional.

Reminder #1

An active sentence that does not have an object cannot be made into the passive voice.

Active voice:   She cried. (The verb has no object, so you cannot make a passive sentence)

Active voice: An accident happened. (Again, no object, so you cannot form a passive sentence)

Intransitive verbs, verbs that never have an object, like be, die, happen, exist, appear can never be made into the passive voice. Only transitive verbs (enjoy, kill, catch, show) can be used in the passive voice. (Hint: They are called transitive because you can transfer an object to them.)

The ghost of the passive voice haunts this webpage.

A ghost appeared. (The intransitive verb ‘appear’ has no object.)

Distinguishing between Passive and Active Voice


Guideline 1: If the sentence does not contain BE + Past Participle, then it cannot be a passive sentence.

John was eating a snack. (Not passive – no BE + Past Participle)

Guideline 2: Look at the subject of the sentence and then the verb. Then ask yourself if the subject is the actor of the verb (did John eat?) or was the subject the object of the verb (Did someone eat John?). If the subject is the actor, then it’s an active sentence. If the subject is the object of the verb, then it’s a passive sentence.

Let’s try some exercises.

Intermediate Exercise #1 – Distinguishing between Active or Passive Voice

  1. I have never been to Wichita. 
  2. I have never been arrested. 
  3. The tower was built in 1802 by a French Artist. 
  4. Nothing happened.  
  5. No one was injured by the fire.  
  6. The award was given to the top student.  
  7. We decided not to hire anyone.  
  8. The pizza was delicious.  
  9. The pizza was ordered.  
  10. The pizza made me sick.  
  11. I was made sick by the pizza.  

  

Intermediate Exercise #2 – Change Active sentences to Passive (Present Simple and Past Simple)

  1. I didn’t fix the problem.

Show Answer

  1. Police protect the town.

Show Answer

  1. John’s mother raised him in a small town.

Show Answer

  1. Someone painted the building last year.

Show Answer

  1. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928.

Show Answer

  1. Some students study grammar on the Internet.

Show Answer

 

Intermediate Exercise #3 – Add the Appropriate Verb in the Past Simple

Look at the subject and verb to determine if it is an active or passive sentence. Then add the appropriate verb. Use the Past Simple tense for this exercise.

  1. Many people (buy) tickets for last night’s concert. All the tickets (sell).
  2. The child (help) by his father. His toys (pick up) and put into a drawer.
  3. Scientists (discover) a new species of frog.
  4. The students (not/raise) their hands.
  5. Last night’s dinner (prepare) by my wife.
  6. The safety rules (not/follow), so an accident (happen).
  7. Because the printer (damage), we couldn’t print.
  8. The house (have) a swimming pool when I lived there.
  9. I (not/allow) to drink alcohol when I was young.

  

Let’s try some more advanced structures.

Advanced Exercise #1 – Distinguishing between Active or Passive Voice

Mark if the sentence is in the active or passive voice. (Remember to look for the BE + Past Participle structure.)

  1. The company was shut down by the police. 
  2. We had been given the wrong tickets. 
  3. She wishes she had been there. 
  4. He might not have been paying attention. 
  5. He should not have been asked to pay. 
  6. Chemicals can be toxic. 
  7. New regulations will be introduced next spring. 

  

 

Advanced Exercise #2 – Change Active sentences to Passive (Present Simple and Past Simple)

  1. Someone had broken the window by 3:00 p.m.

Show Answer

  1. A strange man was watching us.

Show Answer

  1. Tokyo will hold the Olympics in 2020.

Show Answer

  1. We are working on the report right now.

Show Answer

  1. My manager has told him to arrive earlier.

Show Answer

  1. They could not have made the mistake.

Show Answer

  1. I hope they are going to hire me soon.

Show Answer

Advanced Exercise #3 – All Verb Tenses

Look at the subject and verb to determine if it is an active or passive sentence. Then add the appropriate verb. Be careful with intransitive verbs (verbs that do not have an object – they cannot be used in the passive voice.)

  1. That car looks like it has never (wash).
  2. If I were you, I would (contact) a lawyer.
  3. Have you (inform) yet about the new policy?
  4. Unfortunately, the budget has (not/approve) yet.
  5. A smile (appear) on her face.
  6. We (wait) for 30 minutes. Where is the bus?

  

 

  1. The performance (happen) right now. Let’s go.
  2. I’ll be happy if our plan (succeed).
  3. The server (order) to clean up the mess he had made.
  4. The judge ordered that smoking (prohibit) in restaurants.
  5. His grandfather (pass away) years ago.
  6. The airplane, which (operate) by Singapore Airlines, (fly) by an experienced pilot.
  7. I wouldn’t have complained if the food (not/be) overcooked.

  

 

I hope these passive voice exercises have been useful. Find a mistake? Have a question? Leave a comment below.

— Created by Matthew Barton of Englishcurrent.com (copyright)

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