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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
(1) The subject is unknown. We don’t know who or what is the subject. 
  • An amazing surprise has been prepared for you, Maria.
(2) We use the passive to emphasise the subject. 
  • Only ”he” has been known to have all the answers.
(3) We use the passive to talk about general truths. 
  • These lands have been cultivated by farmers for as long as we know it.
(4) We use the passive when we are unclear or vague about the subject. 
  • An interesting letter has been written by this author.
(5) 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.
(6) 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.

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