Tenses in the Passive Voice

Introduction to Tenses in the Passive Voice

When describing actions, grammar utilizes two primary voices: the active voice and the passive voice. While the active voice is ordinarily utilized to denote that the subject of the sentence is performing the action, the passive voice is used to indicate that the subject is being acted upon. This tutorial is designed to provide a comprehensive guide to using tenses in the passive voice.

What is the Passive Voice?

The passive voice is a grammatical construction where the object of a sentence becomes the subject. The subject of a sentence in the passive voice is acted upon by the verb. The general formula for the passive voice is: Subject + aux. verb (be) + past participle + by + agent.

Present Simple Passive

The present simple passive is used to describe actions that are regular or habitual. The formula for the present simple passive is: is/am/are + past participle.


  • The book is read by him every night. (Passive)
  • He reads the book every night. (Active)

Present Continuous Passive

This tense is used to indicate an action that is currently happening and is not yet finished. The construction for the present continuous passive is: is/am/are + being + past participle.


  • The food is being cooked by her. (Passive)
  • She is cooking the food. (Active)

Past Simple Passive

The past simple passive is used to describe a completed action in the past. The formula is: was/were + past participle.


  • The window was broken by the boy. (Passive)
  • The boy broke the window. (Active)

Past Continuous Passive

This tense indicates an ongoing action that was happening in the past. The construction is: was/were + being + past participle.


  • The car was being repaired by the mechanic. (Passive)
  • The mechanic was repairing the car. (Active)

Future Simple Passive

To describe an action that will happen in the future, we use the future simple passive. The formula is: will be + past participle.


  • The project will be completed by the team. (Passive)
  • The team will complete the project. (Active)

Present Perfect Passive

The present perfect passive is used when an action has just been completed or is relevant to the present time. The construction is: has/have been + past participle.


  • The work has been finished by the contractor. (Passive)
  • The contractor has finished the work. (Active)

Past Perfect Passive

This tense is used to express a finished action in the past before another past action. The structure is: had been + past participle.


  • The letter had been sent by her before she called. (Passive)
  • She had sent the letter before she called. (Active)

Future Perfect Passive

Future perfect passive is used when an action is projected to be finished by a certain time in the future. The construction is: will have been + past participle.


  • The house will have been cleaned by me by the time you arrive. (Passive)
  • I will have cleaned the house by the time you arrive. (Active)


In conclusion, the passive voice allows a writer to focus on the recipient of the action rather than the performer. The above explanations and examples provide you with an understanding and appreciation for the intricacies and utility of passive voice across different tenses.


To become proficient in using passive voice in various tenses, it is recommended to practice by converting sentences from the active voice to the passive voice and vice versa. With constant practice, you'll develop a good command of the use of passive voice tenses.

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