What Are Passive Verbs?

Today, I'm answering a question about passive verbs.

My daughter had a homework assignment where she had to identify whether certain sentences were active or passive. We struggled with it.  

Could you give us a lesson on passive verbs and include example sentences?

Please put me out of my misery.

- Claire

Quick Refresher

  • Subjects tell us whom or what a sentence is about. Mary sang.
  • Action verbs show action. Mary sang.

Passive Verbs Lesson

Action verbs can be written in two different "voices." 

These voices tell us whether the subject is performing the action (active voice) or receiving the action (passive voice).

Subject Performs the Action = Active Voice

When the subject of a sentence is performing the action, the sentence is written in the active voice.

In the following examples, the subjects are underlined and the verbs are in bold. Notice that the subjects are performing the actions

My grandma made this scarf.

The class took the test.

The storm demolished many buildings.

All of those sentences are in the active voice.

Subject Receives the Action = Passive Voice

When the subject of the sentence is receiving the action, the sentence is written in the passive voice. 

Look over these sentences and notice that the subjects are not doing anything. They are simply receiving the action. 

This scarf was made by my grandma.

The test was taken by the class.

Many buildings were demolished by the storm.

All of those sentences are in the passive voice.

Test Yourself

Let's see how much you know. Go through these ten sentences and identify whether they are passive or active.

Start by identifying the subject. Next, decide whether the subject is performing the action (active) or receiving the action (passive).

1. The teacher rang the bell. 

2. The school bell was rung. 

3. I watched television. 

4. A new tax was introduced by the government. 

5. Mom whistled a tune. 

6. John sent me the details. 

7. The new roundabout confused many drivers.

8. Scientists are researching new fertilizers. 

9. His idea was considered. 

10. The letter had been delivered to the wrong address. 

You'll find the answers below.

You might find these pages helpful.

Quiz Answers

1. A

2. P

3. A

4. P

5. A

6. A

7. A

8. A

9. P

10. P

The Beginner's Guide to Grammar gives you a fun and visual way to get started with grammar and sentence diagramming. Yay!