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Passive structure

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Lill said:
In a typical active voice sentence, you have SUBJECT + ACTION VERB + DIRECT OBJECT.

The bird ate the worm. Bird is the subject, ate is the action verb, and worm is the direct object.

To convert it to passive voice, make the direct object the subject. Change the verb to the past participle and add the appropriate auxiliary (helping verb). The original subject becomes the object of a prepositional phrase starting with by.

The worm is eaten by the bird. Worm is the subject, is eaten is the verb (still action), and bird is the object of the preposition.

This example by Lill is a great example of when you might want to use a passive construction. Here, the bird is pushed to the position as the last word in the sentence, which is a position of emphasis or stress. If you want to emphasize that it was the BIRD that ate the worm, this construction does that for you.

The worm was eaten by a robin.
The worm was eaten by a worm snake.
The worm was eaten by a boy.

If you say, "The boy at the worm." it conveys the information, but doesn't emphasize that it was that foolish boy who sampled a new delicacy.

#31 - May 19, 2014, 11:27 AM
Darcy Pattison

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Thank you all so much for the excellent advice! Truly useful!  :love5 :flowers2 :thankyou
#32 - August 12, 2015, 07:08 AM


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