Friday, February 18, 2011


Here is an example of a story
written in the passive voice.

A DRIVER has been sent to jail for 90 days for driving with excess alcohol.
Graham Smith, 29, of North Street, Barton, was stopped by police officers near his home last November and was found to have drunk almost twice the legal limit for drivers, Didcot magistrates heard on Thursday. Twelve months earlier Smith had been disqualified from driving for three years for drink-driving. He was disqualified for twelve months in 1986 for a similar offence. Mr Peter Jones, defending, said Smith had used the car to visit a sick friend. He said Smith was depressed after the visit, and went to a pub and drank five or six pints before driving home. He was caught by police during a routine speed check in Wantage Road, Barton.

Shall we practice a bit?
Choose the best way of continuing after each sentence.

1. He lives in a small house.
a. Somebody built it 40 years ago.
b. It was built 40 years ago.

2. English is worth learning.
a. People speak it in a lot of countries.
b. It is spoken in a lot of countries.

3. My nephew is an artist.
a. He has just painted another picture.
b. Another picture has just been painted by him.


Choose the best sentence from each pair
to build a continuous text.



a. First of all, printers print big sheets of paper.
b. First of all, big sheets of paper are printed.

a. Each sheet contains the text of a number of pages.
b. The text of a number of pages is contained in each sheet.

a. People fold and cut the sheets to produce sections of the book.
b. The sheets are folded and cut to produce sections of the book.

a. These sections are called signatures.
b. We call these sections signatures.

Think about this:What makes one sentence better than the other?

a.That she had not written to her parents for over two years surprised me.
I was surprised that she had not written to her parents …..

b.That Mary wanted to tell everybody what to do annoyed me.
I was annoyed that Mary wanted to tell….

c.The fact that he looked completely different from the last time we had met confused me. I was confused by the fact that he looked…


Complete the text with expressions:
had been given
had been told
had never been taught
was given (2x)
was offered
was promised
was sent
was shown
wasn’t being paid

I’ll never forget my first day at that office. I ___________ to arrive at 8:30, but when I got there the whole place seemed to be empty. I didn’t know what to do because I ______________no information about the building or where I was going to work, so I just waited around until some of the secretaries began to turn up. Finally I _______________ a dirty little office on the fifth floor, where I __________________a desk in a corner. Nothing happened for an hour, then I _________________ some letters to type on a computer by one of the senior secretaries. This wasn’t very successful because I had never been taught how to use a computer. (In the letter I _______________ when I _______________ the job, I _________________computer training, but they’d obviously forgotten about this.) By lunchtime things hadn’t got any better, and I decided that _________________to put up with this nonsense, so I walked out and didn’t go back.


A – Structure with introductory it:
It is thought/believed that.. ------- e.g. It is thought that he will resign.

B – Subject + passive verb + infinitive ------- e.g. He is believed to be in Wales.

C – Structure with there is: There is thought / said to be…
------- e.g. There were said to be ghosts in the house, But I never saw one!

Can you change these sentences to the passive? Good luck! and if you aren't sure, then feel free to print them out and bring them to me and we will work it out together!
a. People think the government will fall.
b. We appointed Mr Evans secretary.
c. The villagers called her a witch.
d. People believed that fresh air was bad for sick people.
e. Some people say that there are wolves in the mountains.
f. Police think the man holding the hostages is heavily armed.
g. They say he is in an agitated state.
h. Everybody considered her strange.
i. We expect the rate of inflation will rise.
j. They say that he is somewhere in Germany.
k. Somebody saw Harry leave the plane in New York.
l. People think that she died in a plane crash.
m. People believed that the earth was the centre of the universe.
n. They say that there is oil off the coast of Portugal.
o. They made me give them details of my bank accounts.



Welcome to English at LERNFORUM Chur.  We teach English one to one or in small, personalised groups at every level and for every English language need. Cambridge and Swiss qualified, we're mother-language speaking, and most importantly, have a passion for helping you speak English.

Word of the Month


(adj): Sacred, divine, blessed.

Holiday: a holy or festive day; a day off, vacation (also sacred)

Expressions: Holy Cow! Literally true in India.

Ex: Holly Mackerel! Delicious, healthy and full of mercury.

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