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Advanced Composition 

Using Passive Voice
 April 25, 2002

Passive voice sentences emphasize the action rather than the subject. Often, a student is advised to use the active voice as much as possible, but sometimes the passive voice will express the idea in a better way. The passive voice is often used in textbooks, newspapers, and in native spoken English. Tonight, we'll learn some places where the passive voice should be used.


Uses for the Passive Voice

One place we use the passive voice is when we wish to emphasize what has happened, rather than who or what performed the action.

A big rainstorm hit the coast last night. Hundreds of houses were flooded. (The result of the storm is more important.)

Another use for the passive voice comes when the doer of the action is unknown. (Active sentences would begin with "they", "someone", "somebody" etc..)

Someone knocked over the plant. The plant was knocked over.

Sometimes the doer of the action is obvious.

Our assignments have already been corrected.


Write a short paragraph of around 125 words about an exciting or unusual event in your life. Use a suitable topic and concluding sentence. Give specific details.

Use the passive voice three times in your writing.

Teacher Writing sample on this topic.

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More Lessons (index of past lesson worksheets)