UNIT 40. Passive 1 (is done / was done)

Australia-03 grammar
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C


This house was built in 1935.

Was built is passive.

Compare active and passive:

Somebody built this house in 1935. (active)

Somebody = subject
this house = object

This house was built in 1935. (passive)

This house = subject


When we use an active verb, we say what the subject does:

  • My grandfather was builder. He built this house in 1935.
  • It’s a big company. It employs two hundred people.

When we use a passive verb, we say what happen to the subject:

  • This house is pretty old. It was built in 1935.
  • Two hundred people are employed by the company.


When we use the passive, who or what causes the action is often unknown or unimportant:

  • A lot of money was stolen in the robbery. (somebody stole it, but we don’t know who)
  • Is this room cleaned every day? (does somebody clean it? – it’s not important who)

If we want to say who does or what cause the action, we use by:

  • This house was built by my grandfather.
  • Two hundred people are employed by the company.


The passive is be (is / was, etc.) + past participle (done / cleaned / seen, etc.):

(be) done, (be) cleaned, (be) damaged, (be) built, (be) seen, etc.

For irregular past participles (done / seen / known, etc.)

Study the active and passive forms of the simple present and simple past:

Simple Present

active: clean(s) / see(s), etc.

passive: am / is / are + cleaned / seen, etc.

Somebody cleans this room every day.
This room is cleaned every day.

  • Many accidents are caused by careless driving.
  • I’m not often invited to parties.
  • How is this word pronounced?

Simple Past

active: cleaned / saw, etc.

Passive: was / were + cleaned / seen, etc.

Somebody cleaned this room yesterday.
This room was cleaned yesterday.

  • We were woken up by a loud noise during the night.
  • “Did you go to the party?” “No, I wasn’t invited.
  • How much money was stolen in the robbery?