Passive with present and past tense | Learn English grammar

After looking at six different uses for passive voice in English, we're going to learn how to use passive with present and past tense in this video lesson...


In the previous two videos we looked at the different ways that we use passive voice in English. We looked at six examples of how and when and why we use the passive voice. Now obviously in English we can express passive voice with different tenses as well. So in this video, we're going to look at how we use passive voice in the present tense and the past tense. Then afterwards we'll do a quick quiz to see how much you've learnt.

Firstly, let's have a look at how we use passive voice in the present tense in English. So a very common example we used before is: "English is spoken...all over the world". Meaning, people speak English all over the world. But as we said before, it's not necessary to say 'people' because that's obvious and also we want to focus on the language 'English' as the subject of the sentence. So, how do we form the passive in the present tense? We use the present form of the auxiliary verb 'to be' plus the past participle, in this case 'is spoken'.

We can also use the passive voice in the continuous form as well, in the present continuous. So we could say: "English is being taught in schools all around the world". And what this does is, it expresses the fact that this is something which is happening now. It is an action which is in progress now. "English is being taught all over the world". So what's the structure? How do we form this? We use the verb 'to be' in the present plus 'being' plus the past participle of the main verb. So in this case, "English is being taught". This means that the action of teaching English is happening now and obviously it's teachers that teach. But again we use the passive because it's not necessary to say 'teachers are teaching'. So, "English is being taught all around the world". Here are two more examples: "Coffee is produced in Colombia". "A new skyscraper is being built in the city".

OK, let's have a look at how we use passive voice in the past. Here's an example: "The new school was built last year". So how do we form this? The verb 'to be' in the simple past and the past participle 'built'. We're interested in the school more than who built the school. So, again for that reason we use the passive here. "The school was built last year". Again, we can also use the continuous form, we can use past continuous passive. For example: "A new library was being built, but there wasn't enough money to finish it". To form this we use the verb 'to be' in the past, 'being' plus the past participle of the main verb. Here are two more examples: "Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in a theatre". "The city was being attacked!"

OK, let's do some practice. So I'm going to give you some example sentences in the active voice and I want you to change them into the passive voice using the present or the past tense.

OK, that's the passive voice in the present and the past tense. If you need to check, you can go back and watch the video again. It will be much easier the second time!

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