Passives are formed when the agent (doer of the verb, the noun phrase found in the subject position in active sentences) switches places with the patient (the receiver of the action of the verb, in the object position in active sentences).

We make the passive voice with the past (past passive voice) with the past tense of be + past participle. The form of ‘be’ changes depending on the subject.

We use the passive voice:

When the person or thing (agent) that did the action isn’t known or isn’t important.

The most beautiful paintings were made during the Renaissance.

My wallet was stolen!

To talk about processes.

The sugar was added and then heated to 250 degrees Celsius.

The mixture was then stirred for 10 minutes.

To sound impersonal in formal writing (e.g. news reports, scientific papers, etc.).

The town was destroyed in a tragic twist of fate.

Blame was laid on the politicians involved.

When we want to show who or what did the action we use ‘by’.

This painting was made by Pablo Picasso.

His sandwich was stolen by a squirrel.

Passive voice with the past questions

  1. Who were your clothes made by?
  2. Have you ever had anything stolen from you?
  3. Who was your phone made by?
  4. Who were your shoes made by?
  5. Where were you born? Were you raised there, too?
  6. What’s your favorite book? Who was it written by?
  7. What’s your favorite song? Who was it sung by?
  8. What’s your favorite movie? Who was it directed by?
  9. Talk about when you were given bad service at a restaurant.
  10. Where were you first exposed to English?
  11. Who was your favorite game made by?
  12. Who were the best plays written by?
  13. Who were the greatest symphonies composed by?
  14. In what country were the greatest works of art created?
  15. What’s the greatest invention? Who was it invented by? Where was it invented?
  16. What’s the most important building in your country’s history? Who was it built by? When was it built?
  17. What is the most mysterious monument from your country’s history? What do you think it was used for? When was it made?