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.
Why is the passive used?
Paramedics were called to the singer’s Beverly Hills home
It is not important/we don’t know who called the paramedics
He was pronounced dead
It’s obvious that doctors at the hospital pronounced him dead
Jackson had been due to perform a series of comeback concerts
Actually, it is impossible to put this sentence in an active form. To be due to do something is just a fixed passive expression
He is believed to have suffered a cardiac arrest
Obviously, doctors/experts/journalists believe this
Jackson’s body was flown
We don’t know/it’s unimportant/obvious who flew the plane – and the story is all about Jackson’s body.
a post-mortem was carried out
Obviously, doctors carried out the post mortem
The results have not yet been published.
We don’t know/it’s not important/it’s obvious who publish the reports. Doctors or lawyers or something…
Concerns over Michael’s health were raised last month
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.
four of Jackson’s planned comeback concerts were postponed
Obviously, they were postponed by Jackson’s managers & promotors
the dates had been moved
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!
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