Active and passive voice

دوره: گرامر انگلیسی در شش دقیقه / اپیزود 42

گرامر انگلیسی در شش دقیقه

60 اپیزود

Active and passive voice

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Finn wants to talk about English grammar - but Catherine keeps hitting him! Find out why and learn about the active and passive voices in this episode of 6 Minute Grammar.

  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
  • سطح سخت

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Catherine
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Grammar with me, Catherine.

Finn
And me, Finn. And in today’s programme we’re talking about… Oww! You hit me! Catherine! That hurt!

Catherine
Yes, Finn, I hit you.

Finn
I hope there’s a grammatical reason for that!

Catherine
Always, Finn. I wouldn’t hit you without a good reason. And the reason is, we’re talking about active and passive voice today. And in the active voice we say Catherine hit Finn : subject - verb - object. Like this:

Finn
Oww! You hit me again!!

Catherine All in the name of grammar.

Finn OK. You hit me . Subject - verb - object.

Catherine
That’s right. So, speaking grammatically, the subject - that’s me - performs or does the action…

Finn
And the object of the verb - that’s me - receives or gets the action.

Catherine
Another one?

Finn No. Catherine hit Finn. But of course I’m more important than you Catherine, so I want to be at the beginning of the sentence. Let’s say it this way: Finn was hit by Catherine. Don’t do it again.

Catherine
Ok - Finn was hit by Catherine. We put the receiver of the verb at the beginning of the sentence, plus the verb to be and the past participle, to make a passive sentence: Finn was hit by Catherine. So here’s Rob with some examples of active and passive sentences. First an active sentence:

Rob
Millions of people use the internet.

Catherine
And with the receiver of the verb at the beginning of the sentence - in the passive voice.

Rob The internet is used by millions of people.

Catherine
Active:

Rob A thief stole my car.

Catherine
Passive:

Rob My car was stolen by a thief.

Catherine
Active:

Rob Somebody rescued the child.

Catherine
Passive:

Rob The child was rescued by somebody.

Finn
Thanks Rob. And now that Catherine has stopped hitting me, we can look at that last pair of sentences more closely.

Catherine
OK.

Finn
Thank you. Right, in many situations, the passive sentence the child was rescued would sound more natural than somebody rescued the child - now, that’s if we feel the child is more important than the rescuer.

Catherine
Yes - and we don’t know who rescued the child, so we don’t need to say by somebody . It’s just: The child was rescued .

Finn That’s right - if you don’t know who or what is doing the verb, or if it’s not important, or if it’s obvious, you can leave it out completely, like this:

Rob
My car was stolen.

Catherine
Let’s have another sentence in active voice:

Rob
The storm destroyed the bridge .

Finn
And here it is in passive voice:

Rob
The bridge was destroyed by the storm .

Catherine
Here, the subject - the storm - is important, so we don’t leave it out.

IDENT
You’re listening to bbclearningenglish.com.

Catherine
And we’re talking about active and passive voice.

Finn
That’s right. When the thing receiving the action of the verb is important, you can show this importance, by putting it at the start of the sentence, and using the verb to be plus the past participle of the verb to make a passive form.

Catherine
And if the person or thing doing the verb is obvious, unimportant or unknown, you can leave it out.

Finn
Now for our quiz. Which of these news headlines sounds better: is it a):

Rob 85-year-old Mary Hiker has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

Finn
Or b):

Rob Mount Kilimanjaro has been climbed by an 85-year-old, Mary Hiker.

Catherine
Well, they are grammatically correct, but the active sentence a) is the best - if you agree that the name and age of the climber is more important than the name of the mountain she climbed!

Rob 85-year-old Mary Hiker has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

Finn
Next up - option a):

Rob The police arrested the burglars and took them to the police station.

Finn
And option b):

Rob The burglars were arrested and taken to the police station.

Catherine
And the passive in option b) is best - we can guess that the police arrested the burglars, so we don’t need to mention them.

Rob The burglars were arrested and taken to the police station.

Finn
And the last one - option a):

Rob William posted a photo of his birthday party on his webpage.

Finn
And option b):

Rob A photo of William’s birthday party was posted by him on his webpage.

Catherine
And option a) sounds much better - because William is most definitely the subject of this sentence!

Rob William posted a photo of his birthday party on his webpage.

Catherine
Now, here’s a tip for using the passive voice in spoken English. You may hear people use the verb get instead of the verb be , like this:

Rob Your bike will get stolen if you don’t lock it!

Finn
Right. And if you hit your colleagues, Catherine?

Catherine If you hit your colleagues for a non-grammatical reason, Finn, you will get into trouble.

Finn
OK, thank you very much, and there we are: the passive voice is made with an object, plus the verb to be, plus the past participle.

Catherine
And we use it when we’re more interested in the object of a verb, or if the subject is unknown or obvious.

Finn
There’s more about this on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again soon for more 6 Minute Grammar.

Both
Bye.

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