We are normally not interested in the ‘doer’ of an action in a passive sentence. When we want to mention the ‘doer’, we use the preposition by. The whole phrase is called by -agent in English. Example: Mom is going to prepare the food. The food is going to be prepared by mom.
When we do not know, who the doer of the action was, we use someone or somebody in the active sentence. We leave out these words in the passive sentence. Example: Someone has stolen my wallet. My wallet has been stolen.
When do we omit the by -agent in passive voice? There are three possible situations where the agent could be omitted: when the agent is unimportant, when it is obvious and when it is unknown. Here is an example where agent is not important. Many people begin new projects in January. New projects are begun in January. Here the agent ‘by many people’ is unimportant and hence it is omitted.
We omit the agent when we know who performed the action. In this case, it is not necessary to to mention who made the action that is described on the sentence. Examples: We will have to examine you again. You will have to be examined. Policeman arrested the thief. The thief was arrested.
The agent is omitted when we don’t have any idea of who can be the doer of the action. If the subject of the sentence in active voice is something, somebody, they, you etc, we omit by-agent in the passive voice. Examples: Someone broke the window. The window was broken. We should obey the rules. The rules should be obeyed. They make shoes in that factory. Shoes are made in that factory.
Choose the correct passive form of the verb.
1.Many people begin new projects in January. New projects………..
a)were begun in January b)are begun in January c)are being begun d)was begun
2.You must wash that shirt for tonight’s party. That shirt….for tonight’s party.
a)had to be washed b)must washed c)must be washed d)should be washed
3.Mom is going to prepare the food. The food ..........by mom.
a)was being prepared b)were being prepared c)was going to be prepared d)is going to be prepared
4.They make shoes in that factory. Shoes........in that factory.
a)are made b)were made c)was made d)are being made
5.We will have to examine you again. You......again
a)have been examined b)will have to be examined c)will be examined d)would be examined
6.The delegation will meet the visitors at the airport. The visitors........at the airport by the delegation.
a)would be met b)would meet c)will be met d)shall be met
7.All workers will read the memo. The memo........by all workers.
a)would read b)have read c)have been read d)will be read
8.Nobody can beat Tiger Woods at golf. Tiger Woods.........at golf.
a)cannot be beaten b)could not be beaten c)will not be beaten d)would not be beaten
9.They also speak German at EU meetings. German.........at EU meetings.
a)is spoken b)is also spoken c)is being spoken d)was spoken
10. We must look into the question. The question.........into.
a)should be looked into b)had to be looked into c)must be looked into d)must be looked
11.Someone stole the watch. The watch..........
a)is stolen b)is being stolen c)was being stolen d)was stolen
12. Policeman arrested the thief. The thief.........
a)is arrested b)was arrested c)was being arrested d)were arrested
13. People expect the Chief Minister to come tomorrow. The Chief Minister......to come tomorrow.
a)is expected b)was expected c)will be expected d)is being expected
14.Someone has stolen my wallet. My wallet ............
a)have been stolen b)had been stolen c)has been stolen d)will be stolen
15.The enemy has defeated our army. Our army.......
a)have been defeated b)has been defeated c)had been defeated d)would be defeated
16.The postman delivers letters twice a day. Letters......twice a day.
a)are delivered b)were delivered c)was delivered d)are being delivered
17.We should obey the rules. The rules.........
a)had to be obeyed b)would be obeyed c)should be obeyed d)could be obeyed
18. Manager dismissed him from service. He .......from service.
a)is dismissed b)was dismissed c)is being dismissed d)was being dismissed
19.Someone broke the window. The window............
a)has been broken b)is broken c)is being broken d)was broken
20.The group has made a decision. A decision.......
a)has been made b)was made c)had been made d)were made
Answers: 1)b, 2)c, 3)d, 4)a, 5)b, 6)c, 7)d, 8)a, 9)b, 10)c, 11)d, 12)b, 13)a, 14)c, 15)b, 16)a, 17)c, 18)b, 19)d, 20)a