Passive Voice

Man Wearing a Face Mask Receiving a Pizza Delivery
Type: Grammar
Originally published on February 27, 2023 and last updated on May 15, 2023

Conversation practice for English learners related to the passive voice is an effective grammar topic to improve their overall level and fluency because it helps them to express their ideas in a more complex and nuanced manner.

The passive voice is used in many situations where the focus is on the action, rather than the subject. English learners who understand and can use the passive voice can create more sophisticated sentences, convey a more subtle meaning, and express their thoughts with greater accuracy.

By incorporating passive voice practice into their conversation practice, English learners can develop a more natural and confident speaking style.

Go through the theory of the grammar point to make sure your students fully understand when and how it is used, and then go through the various conversation questions. Encourage the students to use the passive voice in their answers. If they are struggling, first get them to identify the passive voice in the question.

Explanation and Examples

The passive voice is a grammatical construction in which the subject of a sentence is not the doer of the action, but rather the receiver of the action. In other words, the passive voice focuses on what happens to the subject, rather than what the subject does.

The basic structure of the passive voice is: [Object of the active sentence] + [to be verb] + [past participle of the main verb]

For example:

Active voice: The cat chased the mouse.
Passive voice: The mouse was chased by the cat.

In the passive voice example, “the mouse” is the object of the active sentence, “was” is the helping verb, and “chased” is the past participle of the main verb.

Here are some more examples:

Active voice: John painted the house.
Passive voice: The house was painted by John.

Active voice: They are building a new hospital.
Passive voice: A new hospital is being built by them.

Active voice: The company will launch a new product next month.
Passive voice: A new product will be launched by the company next month.

In each of these examples, the passive voice puts the focus on the object of the action, rather than the subject performing the action.

Conversation Questions

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  • Have you ever been given a gift that you didn't like?
  • Have you ever been told a secret that you later regretted knowing?
  • Do you think more funding should be allocated to scientific research in your country?
  • Have you ever been inspired to do something after watching a film or reading a book?
  • Should all high school students be required to learn a second language?
  • Should free healthcare be provided for all citizens?
  • Are you often distracted by your phone when you're being taught?
  • Have you ever been invited to a party where you didn't know anyone else?
  • Should companies be held responsible for the environmental impact of their products?
  • Should the death penalty be abolished?
  • Do you think the the minimum wage should be raised?
  • Has your opinion ever been swayed by an argument made by someone with a different perspective?
  • Do you think animal testing should be banned, or should alternative methods be developed to replace it?
  • Do you feel like your work is appreciated by your colleagues and superiors?
  • Have you ever been impressed by the talent of a street performer?
  • Have you ever been helped by a stranger?
This conversation topic was prepared by Gregory

Gregory is a qualified TEFL teacher who has been teaching English as a Foreign Language (ESL) for over a decade. He has taught in-person classes in Spain and to English learners around the world online.