- There were riots in several towns in northern England last night, in which police clashed with stone-throwing youths.
- Youths throwing stones clashed with police during riots in several towns in Northern England last night.
The five verb forms in English
|Form||AKA||Regular||Irregular 1||Irregular 2||Irregular 3|
|1st form||base form||work||have||write||put|
|2nd form||past form||worked||had||wrote||put|
|3rd form||past participle||worked||had||written||put|
|-ing form||present participle / gerund||working||having||writing||putting|
|-s form||3rd person singular||works||has||writes||puts|
The twelve Active tenses
Exercise 1 - Complete each sentence by entering the verb write in one of the five verb forms.
- 3rd person sg
|I lots of emails every day. |
She often to her friends.
|Continuous||He is a book at the moment.|
|Perfect simple||We have to the Council to complain.|
|Perfect continuous||She has been emails all morning.|
|Simple||He two articles yesterday.|
|Continuous||He was all day.|
|Perfect simple||We had to them to tell them we were coming.|
|Perfect continuous||She was tired because she had been all day.|
|Simple||I will to you tomorrow.|
|Continuous||She will be letters at this time tomorrow.|
|Perfect simple||By 5 pm he will have three reports.|
|Perfect continuous||Soon he will have been for ten hours.|
|Infinitive and gerund|
|Infinitive||I need to to my cousin.|
|Gerund||She just loves to her friends.|
Exercise 2 - Select what Active tense is being used in each of these sentences.
|1.||He had already eaten.|
|2.||She'll be having her lunch at that time.|
|3.||He's talking to Peter at the moment.|
|4.||Has she been to the bank yet?|
|5.||He probably won't have finished it by then.|
|6.||I had been meaning to buy a new one.|
|7.||She went there yesterday.|
|8.||No worries, I'll do it later.|
|9.||Very soon we'll have been waiting for half-an-hour.|
|10.||He goes to the gym at least twice a week.|
|11.||She was wearing a light brown raincoat.|
|12.||I've been writing grammar exercises all morning.|
Subjects and objects
- Tom kissed Patricia
- Tom gave a book
- Tom is walking along the road
Transitive and intransitive
- Tom kissed Patricia - transitive
- Tom gave a book - transitive
- Tom is walking along the road - intransitive
- Tom lives in London. - intransitive
- What's Anne reading? - She's reading 'Harry Potter'. - transitive
- What's Mary doing? - She's upstairs reading. - intransitive
Agents and targets
- Johannes Gutenberg (probably) invented the printing press in the 15th Century.
- The printing press was invented by Guttenberg
- The printing press was invented in the 15th Century.
- They have serviced my car. - Active
- My car has been serviced by them. - Passive
- He gave my sister a book. - Active
- My sister was given a book by him. - Passive
Action verbs and state verbs
- They serve breakfast every morning from seven o'clock.
- She owns a lovely house in the country.
- Breakfast is served every morning from seven o'clock.
- A lovely house in the country is owned by her.
When can we use the Passive?
Exercise 3 - Complete the rules
|Rule 1.||The Passive can only be constructed from suitable verbs|
|transitive - intransitive|
|Rule 2.||The Passive is not usually constructed from verbs.|
|action - state|
|Rule 3.||The Passive is constructed with a suitable form of the verb to be and the of the main verb.|
|1st form - 2nd form - 3rd form - -ing form|
|Rule 4.||When the is unknown, obvious or not important, we miss it out.|
|agent - target|
|Rule 5.||If we do mention it, we connect it with the preposition .|
|of - by|
Why should we want to use the Passive?
1. Emphasis is usually on the subject.
- The Chinese invented or discovered gunpowder, the compass, papermaking and printing (Active) - we are interested in the achievements of the Chinese
- Paper was invented by the Chinese (Passive) - we are interested in the history of paper.
2. Leading from one sentence to the next.
- In Britain, the 5th November is a night for firework displays. Fireworks are made from gunpowder, which was discovered by Chinese alchemists in the 9th century.
- The Chinese invented or discovered gunpowder, the compass, papermaking and printing. These are known as the Four Great Inventions.
3. When we are not interested in who did an action.
- My house was broken into last week. (I don't know who by)
- A man has just been arrested for burglary. (presumably by the police)
- Some important government documents have been found in a rubbish bin. (does it really matter who by?)
4. It provides some structural variety
The Taj Mahal - a case study
Exercise 4 - Look at this text loosely based on the entry at Wikipedia. Tick the boxes where you think the line would be better in the Passive, check your answers then click on 'Show my version'.
|If you are ever in Uttar Pradesh in northern India, you must visit the Taj Mahal.|
|Shah Jahan built this architectural masterpiece in the 17th century.|
|Jahan was the Mughal Emperor at a time of great prosperity in the empire.|
|But sadly his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died in childbirth,|
|and grief overcame Shah Jahan.|
|So he decided to build a mausoleum in her memory.|
|People widely recognize the Taj Mahal as the 'jewel in the crown' of Muslim art in India.|
|It is the finest example of Mughal architecture,|
|which combines elements from Persian, Turkish and Indian architectural styles.|
|Construction began in 1632.|
|They completed the principal mausoleum in 1648,|
|and finished the surrounding buildings and gardens five years later.|
|While people constructed early Mughal buildings mainly in red sandstone,|
|Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones.|
|and buildings under his patronage reached new levels of refinement.|
The verb to be
Exercise 5 - Enter the correct forms of to be to complete the tenses
he, she, it
we, you, they
I a teacher by profession.
She very intelligent.
he, she, it
we, you, they
I ironic of course.
She very kind to me today.
You very naughty at the moment.
he, she, it
I, we, you, they
I a teacher for a long time.
It very cold these last few days.
I, he, she, it
we, you, they
He a student at that time.
They the first to move here.
I, he, she, it
we, you, they
She strange all day yesterday.
Even though we very nice to her.
He a lawyer before he became a politician.
|Simple - all||He a teacher|
|Perfect Simple - all||a teacher|
|Infinitive and gerund|
|Infinitive||I need to nice my cousin.|
|Gerund||She just loves nice to her friends.|
Constructing the Passive
Exercise 6 - Complete the sentences using the Passive tenses of interview
|Simple||On average Mr. Parr about once a week.|
|Continuous||In fact both Parrs right now.|
|Perfect||Catherine Parr twice already this week.|
|Simple||She once yesterday in Bristol.|
|Continuous||At the same time her husband in London.|
|Perfect||He twice already that morning.|
|Simple (will)||And probably he again next week.|
|Perfect||By Saturday he five times.|
|Infinitive||They together tomorrow.|
|Going to||Both of them tomorrow.|
|Modal||In fact he might twice tomorrow.|
|Modal perfect||They must hundreds of times.|
Putting it into practice
Exercise 7 - Rewrite the sentence in the Passive, using exactly the same tense as the Active original. Where the agent (doer) is not important, leave it out.
|1.||They were repairing the road last night.|
|2.||The mayor will inaugurate the tram system.|
|3.||Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice.|
|4.||Something could have delayed her.|
|5.||They had closed the road for repairs.|
|6.||The BBC are to introduce a new radio service.|
|7.||They might cancel the concert.|
|8.||Fifty thousand people will have visited the new centre by the end of the week.|
|9.||Somebody is going to unveil the new monument tomorrow.|
|10.||They are giving her the details right now.|
|11.||People often ask me a lot of stupid questions.|
|12.||The Queen has opened a new footbridge over the Thames.|
Recognising the Passive 1. Active or Passive?
Exercise 8 Look carefully at these sentences and mark them Active or Passive. The last four are in headline format, so you will have to work out the full sentence.
|1.||There were riots in several towns in Northern England last night.|
|2.||Fortunately, the riots were quickly brought under control.|
|3.||But only after several hundred people had been arrested.|
|4.||Henry was totally amazed by all the interest shown in his project.|
|5.||Henry was obviously very interested in completing his project.|
|6.||The interest that has been shown in Henry's project is amazing.|
|7.||MI (Military Intelligence) has told them not to talk to the press.|
|8.||MI (Military Intelligence) have been told to not to talk to the press.|
|9.||New Shooting Spoils Hopes of Truce|
|10.||Peace Treaty Threatened By New Shooting.|
|11.||Bomb in City Centre Detonated in Controlled Explosion.|
|12.||Bus Explodes in City Centre Causing Considerable Damage.|
Recognizing the Passive 2 - Passive, adjective or Perfect?
Exercise 9 - Decide whether the underlined past participles are part of a Passive construction (Pass), adjectives (Adj), or being used in an Active Perfect or Past tense (Act)
|1.||He was surprised by the security man as he was robbing the till.|
|2.||She was surprised at the reaction to her speech.|
|3.||The young pianist's performance surprised the critics.|
|4.||The crisis has depressed wages in many sectors.|
|5.||When the accelerator pedal is depressed, the car goes faster.|
|6.||She's been depressed since the accident.|
|7.||He was tired of constantly being hounded by the press.|
|8.||He has tired of all the press attention he has been getting.|
|9.||He had been tired out by all the constant press attention.|
|10.||She must have confused this man with somebody else.|
|11.||He is easily confused by the smallest problem.|
|12.||I'm confused. Is today Wednesday or Thursday?|
|13.||As a young man he felt alone and misunderstood.|
|14.||His speech has been misunderstood by a lot of people.|
|15.||You have completely misunderstood what I was saying.|
We got done!
- She got caught cheating.
- We got soaked in the rain yesterday.
- He got arrested for fraud.
Have something done
- We're having this room repainted soon.
- I think I'll get my hair cut tomorrow.
- He's just had his car serviced.
- She's getting her garden seen to at the weekend.
- Some sentences sound better in the Active
- But equally, some sentences sound better in the Passive
- Not all Active sentences can be made Passive
- And not all Passive sentences can meaningfully be made Active
- The Passive is used quite often and doesn't have to sound formal or longwinded
- It's easy to be over formal and too wordy only using Active sentences
- Some Active verbs can express a passive idea. But that doesn't make them grammatically Passive.
Some non-formal examples of the Passive
- Apparently he was born in Hungary.
- They were married in the local church.
- It's supposed to be a genuine Rolex, but I have my doubts.
- She's meant to be arriving any minute.
- Do you know his first book was published when he was only 15. Amazing!
- Peter's flight has been delayed because of some strike or other.
- It's a shame the youth club was so badly damaged in last year's fire.
- We came by bus because the car's being serviced today.
- The report? The final version is being typed up as we speak.
- He was had up for speeding twice last year.
Some even less formal examples of the Passive
- Three quid for a coffee! You've been done there, mate!
- Would you believe it! I've just been given the heave-ho. Again!
- Late again! You're fired!
- I've had enough of being screwed around like this.
- Some ref he is! We were robbed!
- Don't tell me you fell for that email scam. You're so easily had!
- I've been tweeted three times this week. And 'liked' on Facebook.
- Like I was so not taken in by his smarmy charm!
- I just can't be bothered with his arty-farty friends.
- So I use the Passive sometimes! Am I bothered?