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 Englishcurrent.com (copyright)

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

  1. fatima Fisher Cantú (Posted on 11-2-2017 at 22:18) Reply

    What do I do now?

      1. 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.

    1. Nelson (Posted on 10-27-2020 at 07:46) Reply

      Thnx.. It helps me ✌

  2. Anonymos (Posted on 10-2-2018 at 11:08) Reply

    I did not like that the answers were given all at once and could not go back to see my own and they were right just slightly different.

  3. Coeyn (Posted on 10-2-2018 at 12:05) Reply

    I would add more guiding and explanations as to why you might be incorrect.

  4. Courtney Hults (Posted on 10-2-2018 at 12:07) Reply

    I feel that this exercise was helpful in advancing my knowledge about passive and active voice. This is because I was able to complete different examples of the voices and develop a better understanding of when they are used.

  5. Aidan the Swashbuckling Merchant (Posted on 10-2-2018 at 14:08) Reply

    Passive voice is easy now. Thanks EnglishCurrent.com! I am monky

    -Thanos

  6. Thanos (Posted on 10-2-2018 at 14:12) Reply

    Thanks Englishcurrent! Because of you, passive voices are as easy as a snap!

  7. Anonymous (Posted on 10-4-2018 at 11:16) Reply

    “We decided not to hire anyone” change the voice

    1. Anonymous (Posted on 1-12-2020 at 12:52) Reply

      Anyone was not decided to hire by us.

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

      no-one was decided to hire

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

      It was decided that no one would be hired ;)

  8. Rahul (Posted on 11-28-2018 at 10:18) Reply

    A very good exercise with a good set of questions. Thanks :-]

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

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

  9. ♡JUNKOOK (ARMY) (Posted on 1-12-2019 at 11:41) Reply

    Amazing it helped me a lot.
    Also reading this + solving the exercises helped me to identify which sentence is the A/V and which sentence is in P/V.
    -Ayna Waseem

  10. Leo (Posted on 3-29-2019 at 11:17) Reply

    It is a great exercise for my students to practice after the have reviewed the topic in class.

  11. Vijay kumar (Posted on 9-3-2019 at 23:09) Reply

    Nice web page
    To solve many problems of active and passive voice.

  12. Usama yaseen (Posted on 9-20-2019 at 10:53) Reply

    Amazing
    It helps me alot
    Thanx

  13. Anonymous (Posted on 3-16-2020 at 21:16) Reply

    need grading

  14. 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: https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/subjunctive.htm

    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 . ;)

  15. Serikbolsyn Zhandar (Posted on 4-8-2020 at 02:31) Reply

    good tests

  16. Jake (Posted on 5-5-2020 at 00:22) Reply

    the tests was a bit confusing but somehow noticed my mistakes.

  17. Lilitha (Posted on 5-14-2020 at 09:57) Reply

    Yes it was very helpful, thank you.

  18. Anonymous (Posted on 11-2-2020 at 05:55) Reply

    It was very helpful,thank you have a nice day;)

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. nyein nyein san (Posted on 12-2-2020 at 21:55) Reply

    Very nice and very easy for me ;)

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

    Which sentence is wrong? Provide a specific example.

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

    Thanks the exercises are very didactics.

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

    Thank you for these exercises

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

    The exercises are very helpful :)

  26. Stefan (Posted on 5-16-2021 at 23:40) Reply

    Very insightful

  27. Amogelang Molefe (Posted on 5-23-2021 at 01:59) Reply

    Extremely helpful and and nice

  28. pompeus magnus (Posted on 5-25-2021 at 10:36) Reply

    who tf says “the child was helped by his father?!”

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