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What is Done to Something

Passive Voice

Use the passive voice to express that something is done to an object. The passive voice is especially useful in business situations when the focus is on the product, rather than the person who manufactures the product. The following structure is used for sentences in the passive voice.

Positive Form:

Passive Subject + to be (passive auxiliary) + Past Participle

The pension fund is contributed to every week.

The construction loan was approved last week.

Negative Form:

Passive Subject + to be (passive auxiliary) + Not + Past Participle

The commercial account hasn't been verified yet, so we don't know if we'll have work in a few months.

The subsidiary will not be used again in the future.

Question Form:

to be (passive auxiliary) + Passive Subject + Past Participle

Was the dividend presentation prepared by Dan?

How often is the proxy vote used at your firm?

Notice that the verb 'to be' is conjugated. Be careful to use 'is' for singular objects and 'are' for plural objects in the present passive voice.

The Use of the Agent 'by' in the Passive Voice

In many cases, the person, company or agent of the action need not be included. This is especially true in general statements.

Oranges are grown in California.

In this case, it is understood that someone grows oranges in California. However, it is not important for the understanding of the sentence to include the agent.

Oranges are grown in California. (by someone)

In the case that it is important to know who or what performs the action in a passive sentence, use the preposition 'by'.

Computers are assembled by Lenovo.
This book was printed by Harper's.

In this case, the company that manufactures the objects is required information.

Passive Tense Comparison Chart

This chart shows passive conjugation for a variety of tenses.

Present Simple Passive

The share issue is processed every week.

Loans are taken out annually.

Past Simple Passive

The settlement price was just approved by both parties today.

The construction loan was approved last week.

Future with 'Will' Passive

His personal property will be damaged by the storm.

The check will be sent tomorrow to settle a debt on that account.

Present Perfect Passive

The funds have been marked as transferable.

The borrower in default has been corresponded with numerous times.