20/06/2010


study owl-1

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about passive verb forms which included an exercise in which you had to read an article about Michael Jackson, find the passive forms, identity the tense for each one and then decide why the passive is used in each case. Doing this exercise should give you a clear understanding of how and why passive structures are used in English.

To read the first part of this post, click here.

 

Below you will see a table in which I explain the passive sentences which were used in the article about Michael Jackson. This table will explain which tense each sentence is in, and why the passive is used in each case:

 

If you have any questions, just add a comment at the bottom of the page.

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Example

Tense

Why is the passive used?

 

 

1

 

 

Paramedics were called to the singer’s Beverly Hills home

 

 

Past simple

 

It is not important/we don’t know who called the paramedics

 

 

2

 

 

He was pronounced dead

 

 

Past simple

 

It’s obvious that doctors at the hospital pronounced him dead

 

 

 

3

 

 

Jackson had been due to perform a series of comeback concerts

 

 

 

Past perfect

 

Actually, it is impossible to put this sentence in an active form. To be due to do something is just a fixed passive expression

 

 

 

4

 

 

He is believed to have suffered a cardiac arrest

 

 

Present simple

 

Obviously, doctors/experts/journalists believe this

 

 

5

 

 

 

Jackson’s body was flown

 

 

Past simple

 

We don’t know/it’s unimportant/obvious who flew the plane – and the story is all about Jackson’s body.

 

 

6

 

 

 

a post-mortem was carried out

 

 

Past simple

 

Obviously, doctors carried out the post mortem

 

 

 

7

 

 

The results have not yet been published.

 

 

Present perfect

 

We don’t know/it’s not important/it’s obvious who publish the reports. Doctors or lawyers or something…

 

 

8

 

 

Concerns over Michael’s health were raised last month

 

Past simple

 

We don’t know – just that people were concerned. Putting the concern at the beginning (as a noun) is better than saying ‘people were concerned’ – the important thing is the concern, not the people.

 

 

 

9

 

 

four of Jackson’s planned comeback concerts were postponed

 

Past simple

 

Obviously, they were postponed by Jackson’s managers & promotors

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

the dates had been moved

 

 

Past perfect

 

Again, we know who moved them – it was his managers

 

 

I hope this post has helped you to understand passives a bit more. Remember, if you have any questions about passive verb forms, just add a comment below!

 

Luke.


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