Passive Voice: Advanced Points

Passive Voice in Finished-Result Verbs 

Some verbs refer to actions that produce a finished result. Examples are cut, build, pack and close. The past participles of these finished – result verbs, and some of their passive voice tenses, can have two meanings. They can refer to the action, or they can describe the result (rather like adjectives) Compare:

The theater was closed by the police on the orders of the mayor. (refers to the state the action of closing)

When I got there I found that the theater was closed. (refers to the state of being shut – the result of the action)

Because of this, present passive forms can have similar meanings to present perfect passives.

Examples:

The vegetables are all cut up – what shall I do now? (= The vegetables have all been cut up.)

I got caught in the rain and my suit is ruined. (=…has been ruined.)

I think your ankle is broken. (=…has been broken.)

Active Verbs with Passive Meaning 

Not all active verbs have ‘active’ meanings; for instance, if you say that somebody receives something or suffers, you are really saying that something is done to him/her.

Examples:

    My shoes are wearing out.

    She is sitting.

    Suddenly the door opened.

Confusing Forms

Students often confuse active and passive verbs forms in English. Typical mistakes:

I was very interesting in the lesson.

We were questioning by the immigration officer.

She has put in prison for life.

Mistakes like these are because:

Be is used to make both passive voice verb forms and active progressive tenses and past participles are used to make both passive voice verb forms and active perfect tenses.

Compare:

            He was calling. (Active – past progressive)

            He was called. (Passive – simple past)

            He has called. (Active – present perfect simple)