Tefl, Uncategorized

TEFL Tips – Active and Passive

Now it is important to note that I am talking about grammar, nothing sexual. Thank you. It’s something that stumps most students, even quite advanced ones. I do remember when I trained as a TEFL teacher, the one thing that confused me was this ‘Active and Passive Voice’ malarky. But then, I’m not sure I was paying attention at the important times!

So what is it, and why is it confusing? Well have a look at the two sets of sentences below and see if you can work out the rules, without looking at them – I’ve put them below the cartoon!

  • a) The police arrested Baldwin and charged him with assault but a judge later acquitted him.
  • b) Baldwin was arrested and charged with assault, but he was later acquitted.


  • a) Paperazzi pursued Tom Cruise at high speed through the tunnel in Paris where a car crash killed Princess Diana.
  • b) Tom Cruise has been pursued at high speed through the tunnel in Paris where Princess Diana was killed.


The rules? It’s simple really! To make a sentence passive (the second sentences) you swap the subject and object, insert the verb ‘to be’ in the correct form (or sometimes the verb ‘get’) before the verb, which you must ensure is now in Past Participle form and the use the preposition ‘by’ to introduce the ‘agent’. You may be able to omit the ‘agent’ (the police and the paparazzi) if the agent is unknown, unimportant, obvious or if you simply don’t want to identify the agent. Got that? 🙂

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