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  • Hello I'm Emma from mmmEnglish!

  • This lesson is at the top of my request list.

  • So many of you have been asking me for a lesson

  • about the passive voice

  • so I'm glad that I finally got it ready for you.

  • Now, this can be a really confusing grammar

  • structure in English.

  • Lots of my students ask

  • "What's the point of the passive voice?

  • Is it really that important?"

  • Yes!

  • Understanding the passive voice is important.

  • In this lesson, you'll learn

  • what it looks like, why it's useful

  • and you'll practise using it with me.

  • The passive voice is used often

  • by native English speakers.

  • It's a mistake to think that it's only used

  • in formal speech.

  • It's also used informally, quite a bit!

  • So stay with me through this entire lesson,

  • keep focused

  • it's not that long.

  • Before we keep going, a quick little reminder to join

  • the mmmEnglish grammar challenge.

  • You'll get to practise the 10 most common grammar

  • mistakes that English learners make

  • and learn how to avoid them with me.

  • And if you join and complete the challenge by

  • by the end of May,

  • you could win one of the many, many prizes

  • that we've got going on.

  • So why should you use the passive voice?

  • Well there are times when you don't want to say who

  • or what did the action.

  • Maybe you're trying to avoid responsibility

  • for something you did

  • or you don't want to get your mate into trouble

  • or maybe you don't know who did the action or

  • or because actually the object is the most important

  • or the most interesting part of the sentence.

  • So that's the thing that the action is happening to

  • not the thing that is doing the action.

  • You can use the passive to change

  • the focus of your sentence.

  • So let's go back a moment.

  • To understand the passive voice,

  • I should really first explain the active voice

  • but you already know it,

  • it looks like like this.

  • The children ate the cake.

  • Subject, verb, object.

  • Now most English sentences

  • are more complicated than this but we'll start simply.

  • The subject does the action to the object.

  • The children ate the cake.

  • Now, imagine that you left for work in the morning

  • and there was a whole cake on the kitchen table.

  • But by the time you got home,

  • it had completely disappeared.

  • You don't know who ate it,

  • I mean, you could probably guess, but you don't know.

  • Where is this cake?

  • The cake was eaten

  • by somebody.

  • So the solution is to use the passive voice

  • because we don't know who ate the cake.

  • Now, sometimes we're just more interested

  • in the object of the sentence rather than the subject.

  • English speakers frequently use the passive voice.

  • But this lesson isn't about English speakers,

  • it's about the passive voice.

  • It's the most important thing.

  • So we can change it to say the passive voice

  • is frequently used by English speakers.

  • Now you'll often read passive sentences in newspapers

  • when the journalist can't say who did something.

  • Maybe because they don't know who did it.

  • It's also used in scientific reports and legal documents

  • because the information has to be objective

  • so often there is no subject.

  • Now some other really common passive expressions

  • that you already know.

  • Be born.

  • We don't say "My mother bore me on June 23rd 1989."

  • I was born on June 23rd 1989.

  • When your friend tells you about his new colleague,

  • he won't say "People call him Tony"

  • he'll say "He's called Tony" or "He's named Tony"

  • 'The Stand' was written by Stephen King.

  • The movie Deadpool was directed by Tim Miller.

  • The national anthem was sung by Fergie.

  • In all of these really common examples,

  • you can see the structure of the passive voice.

  • The be verb followed by the past participle.

  • I thought we only use the past participle verb

  • in the perfect tenses?

  • Yeah we do use it in the perfect tenses

  • and in the passive voice.

  • If you see the be verb followed by

  • the past participle form,

  • you know that this is a passive sentence.

  • So let's go back to the first example to explain the form

  • of a passive sentence.

  • If our active sentence is "The children ate the cake"

  • the passive sentence is

  • "The cake was eaten by the children"

  • The object of the active sentence becomes the subject

  • in the passive sentence.

  • To make the object of the active sentence

  • become the subject,

  • we actually need to change a few things in our sentence

  • So are you ready to learn how to do that?

  • Here's our active sentence,

  • to make a passive sentence,

  • we need to use the passive tense

  • and there are six steps to turn an active sentence

  • into a passive sentence.

  • Now you might want to take a notepad out

  • so that you can write them down as we go.

  • Step one, identify the subject, the verb and the object

  • of the active sentence.

  • Step two, move the object to become the new subject

  • of our sentence.

  • Step three, check the active sentence.

  • What is the verb tense in the active sentence?

  • This is really important because the passive voice

  • exists across different tenses

  • so you must check what tense the active sentence is in

  • to make your passive sentence correct.

  • It's in the past simple, "The children ate the cake".

  • Good!

  • Step four, conjugate the verb be

  • so that it's in the same tense

  • as the main verb in the active sentence.

  • We need to change our be verb

  • verb to the past simple

  • so it becomes was or were

  • depending on the new subject

  • and our new subject is the cake

  • so we can choose was, "The cake was".

  • Step five,

  • add the past participle of the main verb after be.

  • So looking back at the active sentence,

  • the main verb is eat,

  • though it's in past simple form

  • but can you think of the past participle of eat?

  • Eaten, right?

  • Now the last step, step six,

  • you need to decide what to do with the subject

  • of your active sentence.

  • The children.

  • In the passive voice, you don't have to include

  • the thing that is doing the action.

  • You can completely remove

  • that former subject from your sentence

  • and that's helpful if you don't know who ate the cake

  • or you don't want to say who it was

  • or you don't care - maybe it's not important.

  • But you can add it to the end of your sentence

  • with the word by.

  • The cake was eaten by the children.

  • Let's look at some more examples together.

  • The house was built in 1893.

  • The car will be sold by the weekend.

  • The washing had been left out in the rain.

  • Many people's lives were saved.

  • Can you see the passive form here?

  • The be verb is always there but it tells us the tense.

  • It helps to describe when something happened

  • and it also conjugates with the subject.

  • People's lives were saved.

  • The house was built.

  • And the be verb is always followed

  • by the past participle.

  • We can also explain who or what did the action

  • by adding by.

  • The house was built by her grandfather.

  • This car will be sold by the salesman.

  • The washing had been left out in the rain

  • by her husband.

  • Many people's lives were saved by the volunteers.

  • Okay let's try a new sentence together.

  • I want you to do this one with me please.

  • Can you remember the six steps?

  • Someone has stolen my neighbour's car.

  • This is an active sentence.

  • Now can you remember step number one?

  • It's easy! Identify the subject, verb and object.

  • Step two, make the object the subject.

  • Step three,

  • tell me what tense is used

  • in the original active sentence.

  • The present perfect tense.

  • Step four, you need to conjugate the be verb

  • so that it's in the same tense.

  • The neighbor's car has been.

  • We're using has because the subject is now the car.

  • Step five, add the main verb in past participle form.

  • The neighbor's car has been stolen.

  • It's the same verb as the original sentence,

  • which was also the past participle.

  • Step six, decide

  • do you need to include the thing that did the action?

  • Is it really that important?

  • Maybe not

  • because we don't really know anything about who did it,

  • it's just someone.

  • I'd probably just leave it as

  • my neighbor's car has been stolen.

  • But if we knew a little bit more about who or what did it,

  • we could definitely include it.

  • My neighbor's car has been stolen by someone.

  • My neighbor's car has been stolen by a monkey.

  • So the passive form always includes the be verb

  • with the past participle

  • and if you need to include any information about

  • what or who did the action use by.

  • Okay, I've got

  • three more examples for you to practise with.

  • We made lots of money in 2002.

  • Lots of money was made by us in 2002.

  • I will clean the house on Monday.

  • The house will be cleaned by me on Monday.

  • He built the house for his parents.

  • The house was built by him for his parents.

  • Okay now that's enough for this lesson

  • but there is actually a lot more to practise

  • about the passive voice

  • like how to use the negative forms and questions,

  • how to use modal verbs in the passive voice,

  • how to include adverbs of manner

  • to explain how something is done.

  • But there is enough information right there

  • for a whole new lesson so I'll get to that.

  • Practise your passive sentences in the comments

  • under this video and make sure that you

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  • if you haven't already.

  • Just click that red button down there.

  • Then I can let you know when I've got

  • a new lesson ready for you.

  • Don't forget to sign up to the

  • mmmEnglish grammar challenge,

  • you can do that right here.

  • Sign up and complete the challenge

  • before the end of May 2018

  • and you could win!

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  • to meet me on Skype for conversation practice.