All sentences are either active or passive.

Active and passive

These two sentences have different meanings:

ACTIVE: Zheng helped the other students.
PASSIVE: Zheng was helped by the other students.

In the active sentence, Zheng did something. In the passive sentence, something happened to Zheng (he did not do anything).


Look at these two passive sentences:

The other students were helped by Zheng.
Zheng is the agent because he did something.

Zheng was helped by the other students.
Zheng is not the agent; the agent is the other students.

The agent is the doer of the action.

We use by before the agent in a passive sentence. But many passive sentences do not tell us about the agent because it is not of interest or not important (Unit 44).

Making active into passive

When you change an active sentence into passive, you change the verb formation and you change the word order.


These two sentences have the same basic meaning:

[AA] Amira [AV] helped the other students.

The other students [PV] were helped by [PA] Amira.

Unit 43 shows you passive verb formations, but don't forget that subject and verb must agree in number and person (Unit 4).

Unit 44 shows you when to use the passive.

Download PDF
Download Word

Exercise 42.1
Exercise 42.2