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Present perfect – passive

There are several reasons as to why we use the passive voice in English. In these notes, we’re going to focus on the present perfect in the passive voice and its elaborations. Generally, we use the passive when the focus is on the action and NOT on WHO or WHAT is performing the action.

Construction: has/have + been + past participle (enjoyed, imagined) 

Example verb: visit

I have been visited   We have been visited
You have been visited   You (guys) have been visited
He/she/it has been visited   They have been visited

The agent is unknown. We don’t know who or what is the agent 

  • An amazing surprise has been prepared for you, Maria.

We use the passive to emphasise the subject 

  • Only ”he” has been known to have all the answers.

We use the passive to talk about general truths

  • These lands have been cultivated by farmers for as long as we know it.

We use the passive when we are unclear or vague about the subject

  • An interesting letter has been written by this author.

English Verbs – The Complete Guide

We use the passive when the subject is irrelevant

(We don’t care who or what has caused the action to be). 

  • I haven’t the slightest clue as to who or what has been driven to commit such an act but we need to get to the bottom of all this.

We use the passive in a more formal atmosphere like a thesis or an important piece of writing, especially scientifically speaking

  • The sulphur and other liquids have been poured into the mix in order to acquire the results we were looking for.

English Verbs – The Complete Guide

Lesson #34: Present perfect – passive

Explanation

Construction: have/has + been + past participle (held, worked)

Example verb: light

I have been lighted   We have been lighted
You have been lighted   You (guys) have been lighted
He/she/it has been lighted       They have been lighted

Context

  • So, what efforts have been made to make this planet a clean planet?1
  • Well, have you ever heard of a car company called Tesla?
  • No, I haven’t.2 What’s it about?3
  • Well, the owner, Elon Musk, has this electric car company named Tesla that manufactures electric cars. It seems to be the next big thing.
  • Cool! So, do you think much has been done?4
  • It appears so. Tesla electric cars have already been bought by loads of people5 and they’re continuing to sell!6
  • Sounds like a great first step.
  • You bet!

Analysis

  1. So, what efforts have been made to make this planet a clean planet? The passive voice in the present perfect is used here ‘have been made’ to put the focus on the ‘efforts being made’.
  2. No, I haven’t. The is a form of ellipsis and is very common in English. ‘No, I haven’t’ is short for, ‘no, I haven’t heard of the car company’. We use ellipsis to make sentences and questions shorter in order to have far less redundancy.
  3. What’s it about? ‘To be about’ is a common expression to ask about something or someone. I.e. What’s this curriculum about? I don’t know what you’re talking about.
  4. So, do you think much has been done? The passive voice in the present perfect ‘has been done’ is used because the subject is not relevant. We don’t know ‘what has been done’.
  5. Tesla electric cars have already been bought by loads of people. The passive voice in the present perfect ‘have been bought’ is being used to emphasise the subject ‘Tesla electric cars’. In the active, this sentence would be as follows: Loads of people have bought Tesla electric cars. ‘Tesla electric cars’ is no longer being emphasised.
  6. They’re continuing to sell! The present continuous (active) ‘they’re continuing’ is being used because we’re talking about a temporary state, the state being, ‘Tesla cars continuing to sell’. 

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