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
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|
- 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!
- 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’.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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’.
- 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.
- 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’.
All passive forms:
- Articles (a/an, the, zero article)
- Pronouns: subject, object and possessive
- Question tags
- English conditionals
- Interrogatives in English
- Phrasal verbs
- Prefixes and suffixes
- Reported and direct speech
- Numbers: cardinal, ordinal, and Roman numbers
- The verb: “get”
- ‘Get’ vs. ‘go’ and ‘got’ vs. ‘gotten’
- Copular verbs
- Cleft sentences
- Subjunctive in English
- Vulgar and taboo in English
- Split infinitive
- Emphasis with inversion
- Gerunds in English
- To + infinitive
- Bare infinitive
- British and American spelling