Present and past passives

دوره: گرامر انگلیسی در شش دقیقه / اپیزود 22

گرامر انگلیسی در شش دقیقه

60 اپیزود

Present and past passives

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This unit was produced by BBC Learning English for you - and we hope youre learning a lot from our activities, videos and other materials. Passive forms like was produced can be tricky to understand, but thats why we have programmes like 6 Minute Grammar. This time Rob, Neil and Mike will help you with this area of language, present and past passive forms .

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Neil Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Grammar. I’m Neil…

Rob And I’m Rob. Hello.

Neil Today we’re talking about the passive voice.

Rob
Yes, the passive voice. In English, we can talk about things in both the active and passive voice.

Neil Yes. And we’re going to start with the active voice. And here’s Mike with our first example.

Mike
Pharrell Williams sang the song Happy.

Neil And one more time.

Mike Pharrell Williams sang the song Happy.

Neil Pharrell Williams sang the song Happy. Good song Rob, isn’t it.

Rob Well it makes me happy anyway.

Neil And in grammatical terms, we’ve got the subject - Pharrell Williams , then the verb , sang , then the object of the verb - the song Happy. And that is an example of the active voice because the performer of the action , the doer , is at the beginning of the sentence - Pharrell. We’re focusing on the person or the thing that does the action of the verb.

Rob So far so good - but what if we want to focus on what receives the action? That’s the object in the active sentence. What if we’re more interested in the song than we are in the singer? Can we put the song Happy at the beginning of the sentence?

Neil Well yes, we can, but the grammar needs to change. Listen carefully:

Mike
The song Happy was sung by Pharrell Williams.

Neil Again.

Mike
The song Happy was sung by Pharrell Williams.

Neil So now the receiver of the action - The song Happy - comes first. It changes place with the doer. And because we’ve changed the sentence structure, we need to make two changes to the sentence. First, we need to add the verb to be , in the correct form. Second, we have to use the past participle of the verb.

Rob And that gives us a sentence in the passive voice:

Mike The song Happy was sung by Pharrell Williams.

Neil Let’s listen to those two sentences one more time. Active voice:

Mike Pharrell Williams sang the song Happy.

Neil And passive voice:

Mike The song Happy was sung by Pharrell Williams.

Rob Thanks Mike. And the two sentences have exactly the same meaning, don’t they, Neil?

Neil They do. They have exactly the same meaning. So you might be wondering why we need two different ways of saying the same thing.

Rob I was wondering… But, the good thing about passive sentences is that we can give the receiver of the action more importance in our sentence by putting it at the start, but that’s not the only reason that the passive voice is useful, right Neil?

Neil
Right! The passive voice is really useful when we don’t know who or what performed the action - or if everyone knows it. So we don’t need to say it. Can we have an example please, Mike…

Mike
Millions of cars were sold in 2012.

Neil And one more time.

Mike
Millions of cars were sold in 2012.

Neil
So that’s a passive sentence with millions of cars at the start. Then we’ve got the verb to be plus the past participle - were sold - and then for the doer of the action - well, there is no doer.

Rob What’s that? No doer of the action at all… sound strange? Well, actually, we don’t have to have a doer in a passive sentence, so, if the doer is not really important, or if it’s obvious, we can leave it out. We know that some people bought all these millions of cars. But we don’t have to say it.

Neil Yeah. So we leave the performer of the action out if it’s not important or if everybody knows.

Rob
Right. You can also leave the doer out if you don’t know it, like this:

Mike
My bicycle was stolen last weekend .

Neil
Oh, Mike!

Rob Poor Mike.

IDENT
6 Minute Grammar from bbclearningenglish.com.

Rob
And we’re talking about the passive voice. Now to make tenses in the passive voice, we change the form of the verb to be . Here’s a present tense example:

Mike Millions of songs are downloaded every day.

Neil Again.

Mike Millions of songs are downloaded every day.

Neil
And a past tense example:

Mike 15 million songs were downloaded yesterday.

Rob
And now - it’s time for a quiz. Change these sentences from active into passive, and remember, you might not need a doer. Number one: People speak Spanish in Cuba and Chile.

Neil
And the answer is: Spanish is spoken in Cuba and Chile. Number two: The police arrested ten people last night.

Rob
And the answer is: Ten people were arrested last night. OK, last one: Brazil won the 1994 World Cup.

Neil Ah, I remember it well! The 1994 World Cup was won by Brazil. And the doer - Brazil - is important here, isn’t it Rob?

Rob Yes it is, very important.

Neil So we don’t leave it out.

Rob
Well done if you got all those right. So that’s the passive voice. We use it to give importance to the receiver of the action of a verb, or when we don’t know who did it or everyone knows it.

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

Both Bye!

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