It’s hard enough to write in the active voice, but once you start writing in the passive voice, things can go haywire. Let’s start with the basics.
How do I form the passive voice? (in four easy steps)
Example sentence: We made a mistake.
1. Identify the verb and verb tense in your active voice sentence.
made, past tense
2. Make your object your new subject.
3. Put the verb “to be” in the tense that you identified in #1.
A mistake was…
4. Put the past participle of the verb after it.
A mistake was made.
When do I use the passive voice?
Not all the time! Not even often! Please read this post about when and why we use the passive voice.
For Dutch speakers…
If you’re Dutch and writing at a high level, the passive voice is going to trip you up. It’s all about the words is and was: we use them in both languages but in vastly different places.
When you use this in Dutch
…use this in English!
|werd||was, has been|
|is||was, has been|
|was||had been (was, has been)|
The trick is to avoid using is and was in English in the same place as in Dutch. It will be tempting, but resist!
Dutch to English Passive Voice:
This department is managed well.
The domestic market was hit hard by the VAT increase.
The ideal solution has been found.
The first car was made in 1886.