Present simple – 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 simple 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: am/is/are + past participle
(1) The subject is unknown. We don’t know who is the subject.
- The man who is believed to have stolen the goods must be brought to justice. (we don’t know who is the man)
(2) We use the passive to emphasise the subject.
- Paris and London are visited by many people each year. (The emphasis is on Paris and London).
(3) We use the passive to talk about general truths.
- Certain animals are known to attack humans.
(4) We can use the passive if we want to be unclear or vague about the subject.
- Mistakes are committed.
(5) We use the passive when the subject is irrelevant. (We don’t care who or what has caused the action to be).
- English classes are taught here every day. (WHO teaches the classes is not important within the given situation).
(6) We use the passive in a more formal atmosphere like a thesis or an important piece of writing, especially scientifically speaking.
- The water is thus poured into the dish to form the desired product.
- The whole scientific process is done over three years.