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. Janet rode an airplane yesterday for the first time. 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 (copyright)

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52 comments on “Passive Voice: Intermediate & Advanced Exercises (and Explanation)

  1. Melina (Posted on 3-27-2020 at 15:00) Reply

    Hello. It is very interesting your didactic and I really appreciate it!
    I would like to ask about the sentence:
    The judge ordered that smoking
    be prohibited
    (prohibit) in restaurants.

    Why this sentence is in this way?
    My very thanks.

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 3-27-2020 at 20:41) Reply

      Hello. The verb ‘ordered’ is a verb that can be used in the subjunctive mood. This mood is formal. For example, the verb ‘suggest’ can be used in the subjunctive, e.g. ‘I suggest he be fired’. See here for more details:

      1. males (Posted on 1-28-2022 at 11:01) Reply

        I also had some confusion but now everything is right thanks to you

    2. nyein nyein san (Posted on 12-2-2020 at 22:05) Reply

      i agree with you but don”t you think there are more wrong sentences?I think this is a little wired . ;)

  2. Edabae (Posted on 11-2-2020 at 09:36) Reply

    We decided anyone was not to be hired

    1. Kate (Posted on 4-15-2021 at 05:43) Reply

      Good job, my teacher gave me and my class this exercises at today’s lesson! Great!

  3. Yannis (Posted on 11-12-2020 at 08:03) Reply

    Why is it ‘The judge ordered that smoking be prohibited’ and not The judge ordered that smoking will be prohibited’ ?

    1. MB (Posted on 11-12-2020 at 13:59) Reply

      Hello. ‘Melina’ asked the same question in March. Look up about 5 comments and you’ll see my answer.

  4. Dilyara (Posted on 11-20-2020 at 19:46) Reply

    hello, I have 2 questions, I didn’t understand what tense to use in the senteneces 4. The judge ordered that smoking … (prohibit) in restaurants. 6. The airplane, which … (operate) by Singapore Airlines, … (fly) by an experienced pilot. Could you help me?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 11-20-2020 at 21:10) Reply

      4. be prohibited. For help with this, see the comment from Melina above.
      6. was operated, was flown. I can see that for this question, it’s not clear why the past tense should be used instead of the present or future. I will make the question clearer.

  5. MB (Posted on 12-3-2020 at 13:29) Reply

    Which sentence is wrong? Provide a specific example.

  6. surojit (Posted on 1-17-2021 at 07:56) Reply

    no-one was decided to hire

  7. Daissy Arenas (Posted on 1-26-2021 at 19:18) Reply

    Thanks the exercises are very didactics.

  8. Jirayr (Posted on 2-14-2021 at 07:17) Reply

    Very good. Now I’m 100% sure I will do good in my test tomorrow.

  9. Anonymous (Posted on 3-11-2021 at 17:40) Reply

    It was decided that no one would be hired ;)

    1. Try2win (Posted on 7-27-2022 at 22:59) Reply

      Very interesting questions are their i enjoyed it very much ✌️

  10. Zaher (Posted on 3-21-2021 at 19:35) Reply

    His song has affected the royal family on the appearance of king

  11. SERGIO (Posted on 4-5-2021 at 11:59) Reply

    Thank you for these exercises

  12. Caylia (Posted on 5-15-2021 at 08:57) Reply

    The exercises are very helpful :)

  13. CELPIP Coaching (Posted on 6-24-2021 at 01:51) Reply

    Thanks for Share i learnd a lot of things.

  14. furqan ahmed (Posted on 8-15-2021 at 22:11) Reply

    decision for not hiring anyone was made by us.

  15. Junayed Ahmed (Posted on 8-20-2021 at 11:03) Reply

    It will be helpful for those who are willing to practice grammar properly.

  16. ERIC (Posted on 10-13-2021 at 16:31) Reply

    It is a blessing to practice grammar in such god company! YAY

  17. Rosalie (Posted on 10-13-2021 at 16:33) Reply

    Thank you so much. It helped me so much, it’s unbelievable! Plus I could fill it in good company :-)

  18. anonym's (Posted on 1-8-2022 at 06:16) Reply

    superb explanation and perfect solving questions to understand thank you

  19. Maylen Bahena (Posted on 1-18-2022 at 12:42) Reply

    Thanks teacher for those exercises

    1. S (Posted on 1-19-2022 at 02:47) Reply

      Thank you so much I solve many question
      This is very helpful for me

  20. Talha Rihan (Posted on 2-27-2022 at 05:55) Reply

    Chemicals can be toxic..
    Please change it into active

    1. Teresa (Posted on 3-10-2022 at 05:16) Reply

      This is not a passive sentence, so it cannot be transformed into active ‍♀️

  21. mb Post author (Posted on 2-27-2022 at 13:39) Reply

    It cannot be made into the passive voice because the verb “BE” does not have an object (the verb BE uses a complement, not an object).

  22. Anonymous (Posted on 3-10-2022 at 05:09) Reply

    Sorry, that’s not it

  23. Palesa Leepile (Posted on 4-24-2022 at 06:03) Reply

    Great set of exercises for practice. Thank you.

  24. Moustafa (Posted on 5-4-2022 at 04:36) Reply

    it was decided that no one shall be hired

  25. DIPESH VUSHWAKARMA (Posted on 5-12-2022 at 23:09) Reply

    To determine the passive voice you will have to focus on this words :- Be,been,being,let,,have,has,had, and passive voice always consists of verb in 3rd form which means past participle.
    The format is. : OBJECT + AUXILIARY VERBS + V³ (VERB IN 3rd FORM) + … by S² ( he changes to him,she to her,they to them, we by us , etc )

  26. Hindustani Anand from India (Posted on 9-17-2022 at 18:40) Reply

    We decided anyone not to be hired.

  27. Hiya Bhattacharya (Posted on 11-16-2022 at 07:25) Reply

    Hi, this is Hiya Bhattacharya, a standard 7 student of ICSE board. I just clicked on the website and found such AMAZING exercises which are really helpful for my tests. It would be more effective if it had Quasi-Passive sentences so that we could have a clear idea of Active and Passive.

    Overall, the wide range of exercises is surely going to be helpful for all the students.

    Thank you!

  28. MB (Posted on 1-11-2023 at 17:39) Reply

    Transitive verbs are used in regular sentences when a verb has an object, e.g. “I hired a worker.” < This is 'transitive' because the verb, hired, is transferred an object (a worker).

  29. Vi (Posted on 1-15-2023 at 16:43) Reply

    No one was decided not to be hired

    1. Vi (Posted on 1-15-2023 at 16:44) Reply

      sorry I mean, No one was decided to be hired

  30. Kristal Quintana (Posted on 1-18-2023 at 19:03) Reply

    Kristal Quintana – ENGL102 section 05

    Thank you Professor for this tool. It helps a lot to improve my skills in writing.

  31. Anonymous (Posted on 2-22-2023 at 10:46) Reply

    Anyone was decided not to be hired

  32. h (Posted on 5-1-2023 at 01:30) Reply

    The decision not to hire anyone was made by us.
    No one was decided to be hired by us.

  33. Bobby (Posted on 5-10-2023 at 02:01) Reply

    I had the same answers as the corrections, but it was still marked as wrong.

  34. Samuel (Posted on 5-11-2023 at 04:02) Reply

    Very good I liked it a lot, I am going to get 10 in my exam, thank you

  35. Tsion Mekonen (Posted on 6-7-2023 at 01:32) Reply

    I really like it thank you

  36. Ahnaf Fakir (Posted on 8-30-2023 at 03:37) Reply

    The exercise was very easy.
    We are hoping more difficult exercise.
    By the thanks.

  37. Beny Arlène ABIZEYE (Posted on 10-13-2023 at 12:33) Reply

    I appreciate this exercises thanks

    1. Beny Arlène ABIZEYE (Posted on 10-13-2023 at 12:34) Reply

      I appreciate this exercises, thanks

  38. Topper (Posted on 11-8-2023 at 07:38) Reply

    Good job.

  39. Fatima Chowdhury (Posted on 11-13-2023 at 22:08) Reply

    Great exercises ! Helped my students. However Exercise 3 answers tough correct are showing errors could you please rectify them?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 11-13-2023 at 22:58) Reply

      What are the precise answers that you wrote that were marked as incorrect?

  40. Daniela Quetzalli Gutierrez Gonzalez (Posted on 2-16-2024 at 10:49) Reply

    This exercise has been really helpful , I still have to practice more.

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