Passive forms

Sophie is in China for work and phones home to tell Ollie about her trip.

Instructions

As you watch the video, look at the examples of passive forms. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, passive forms correctly.

Transcript

Sophie: Hello? Hi? Can you hear me? I’m outside the hotel. My room is being cleaned. It’s a bit noisy.
Oliver: Yeah, I can hear you, Mum. How’s China?
Sophie: Amazing. I’m in Zhangjiajie.
Oliver: Where?
Sophie: Zhangjiajie National Park. It’s been used in a lot of films. I was told the scenery in Avatar was based on the landscape here.
Oliver: Really? Wow! Has it got mountains a bit like fingers?
Sophie: Yeah, that’s the place.
Oliver: So, how do you get up the mountains? Can you?
Sophie: One mountain has an enormous lift, the biggest outdoor elevator in the world, so I’ve been informed. It takes you right to the top. It was fantastic!
Oliver: What else have you seen?
Sophie: Well, I met some local girls wearing regional costume. They were absolutely gorgeous. They’re decorated with bands of flowers and there’s a lot of red.
Oliver: Ah, nice, but don’t even think about it as a Christmas present!
Sophie: OK, got the message!
Oliver: Good! What are you up to tomorrow?
Sophie: Well, we’re going to Baofeng Lake. I think loads of films have been made there too. It’s going to be fascinating.
Oliver: Cool. What about the language? Have you learned any Mandarin?
Sophie: Not much, to be honest. My guide translates for us. She’s the best! Anyway! I’ll call tomorrow and I’m back on Saturday. I hope to find everything clean and tidy … you’ve been warned!!
Oliver: Yeah, Mum. Have a great day tomorrow – look forward to seeing the photos. Bye.
Sophie: Love you.

We use the passive, rather than the active, to show that we are more interested in a certain part of the sentence. The passive is usually formed by the verb to be + past participle.

Can you give me some examples of the active and passive?

Yes, of course. Here’s a passive sentence:

My room is being cleaned.

'My room' is the main focus of the sentence. The active form would be 'The cleaners are cleaning my room'. This sounds strange because it is obvious that, if you are in a hotel, cleaners would clean your room. So we sometimes use the passive to avoid stating the obvious.

OK, that makes sense. Are there any other uses?

We also use the passive when we don’t know who did something, or when it isn’t important.

It’s the biggest outdoor elevator in the world, so I’ve been informed.

It doesn’t matter who told me.

I think loads of films have been made there.

The important thing is the films, not the film-makers.

Can you use a passive and also say who did the action?

Yes.

Avatar was made by James Cameron.

Is the passive formal?

No, not necessarily. It can be formal or neutral or informal.

I hope to find everything clean and tidy … you’ve been warned!

But we often avoid the passive in very informal spoken language, for example, by using they.

They based the scenery in Avatar on the landscape here.

We don’t know exactly who they are, but we can guess that it’s the people who made the film.

I think I’ve heard people use you a lot too when they don’t refer to anyone in particular.

Yes, very good! That’s another way of sounding more informal. You is a bit different; it means 'people in general'.

Parcels can be collected from the Post Office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (more formal)
You can collect parcels between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (less formal)

One last question, what about the passive with get? Is that informal too?

Yes, when we’re speaking informally we also often use get rather than the verb be.

He was sacked from his job. = He got sacked from his job.

But be careful, not all verbs can be used in the passive with get - only verbs for talking about an action or a change.

She was knocked off her bike by a bus. = She got knocked off her bike by a bus.
Charlie Chaplin was loved by millions. Charlie Chaplin got loved by millions.

Phew, OK. I think my brain has been fried by all this!

Ah, OK, we’ll stop. But look - you’re using the passive correctly already!

Discussion

Tell us about a film that you like. When and where was it made? Was it based on a true story or a book?

Grammar
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Comments

Submitted by rebbit2009 on Tue, 08/09/2022 - 07:51

My favourite film is Padington ( I hope I wrote it correctly) I am not sure when was it made. No, it wasn't based on a true story or a book, it is a fantasy film.

Submitted by Siazan on Sat, 04/02/2022 - 06:28

My favourite film is STAR WARS: REVENGE OF THE SITH, which was released in May 19, 2005, in USA

Submitted by armieK on Sat, 09/18/2021 - 17:13

The film that I like very much is called Three Nuts for Cinderella. I watched this film when I was 11 years old. My mom showed me this movie. It was made many years ago by Czech film makers. In this movie Cinderella was given three acorns. She used them to get ready to prepare for a prince's ball. This film was based on a story about Cinderella, but it was changed a bit. If you have a chance please watch this beautiful film.

Submitted by Tigress on Sat, 09/18/2021 - 17:11

I like film Mama Mia. This film isn`t based on the true story. it has been made in 2008 i think. it has been made in America. Watch it!

Submitted by Mamou1 on Thu, 07/22/2021 - 11:11

Tell us about a film that you like. When and where was it made? Was it based on a true story or a book the Titanic is and will always be my favorite movie. It's a romance drama film based on a true story and it's been made in USA in 20th centuryby james cameroon . Actually theI initial release were18 November 1997 (London) . Actually I think most of people watched it so I don't need to explain but if you haven't watched it I advise you to watch it. you may think it will be boring since everyone talk about it but really it not.

Submitted by M_FHR on Sun, 07/18/2021 - 22:12

The film that I like is "Hangover". It is a comedy film recommended for people over 15 years old. The film was made in 2009 in the United States, and it's not based on real events. The movie is about a group of friends going on a trip to Las Vegas for the bachelorette party of one of them. However, the next day they realize that their friend who is going to get married in two days is lost. With little time to find him, the three friends try to remember their steps and find his friend to return to Los Angeles for his wedding.

Submitted by AlumnaUne on Fri, 07/16/2021 - 08:44

There’s a movie that I really like, and it’s Forrest Gump, and it’s based on the novel by author Winston Groom. It was held on June 23, 1994 in Los Angeles, directed by Robert Zemeckins and filmed in Los Angeles. The story is fiction but some characters were based on real life, the character of the sergeant was taken from a general of the Confederate War Army section Nathan Bedford Forrest. The novel and the film tell the story of a child who has a low IQ and has always been considered a fool, has a problem in his spine which prevents him from walking but one day just running he discovered that his spine fixed. After that the film are events that happen to him in life that by coincidence or luckily is becoming more and more important and richer, His great heart and kindness make him win the sympathy of people is with it he becomes a character loved by the public since it shows that no matter what coefficient you are assigned, if you believe in yourself you can achieve everything.
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Submitted by Cfvdv on Mon, 04/05/2021 - 20:51

I like a film called `La Vita é Bella`, an Italian film based on a true story, of World War II. It was made about the year 2000 by Roberto Benini and it became very famous. The film tells a story about a father who was with his son in the concentrantion camp, and because his son was very young, this father tells to his son that the concentration camp was like a game, and they needed to follow the rules and do the tasks that the soldiors told them to do to win a prize at the end. This way, the son did not suffer too much and survived until the end of the war.

Submitted by JaimeMaya2001 on Fri, 07/16/2021 - 03:01

The movie that I like the most is undoubtedly avengers end game, since all its characters, all its history is incredible, the war they face, but what I like the most is the great message that the film leaves since the message is about the union is strength and it is better to work as a team than to work alone and that we all need someone's help, to do something better, another point that I also like is that the film lasts more than three hours and the truth is that I hardly know feel, for that and more things is my favorite movie of these times.

In reply to by Cfvdv

Submitted by Didik on Tue, 03/30/2021 - 16:45

I like the films of Herry Potter, the witter is brithish but I think the film is made in the USA. The films are ficctions about magic an witchcraft bassed on books thet were written around the years 2000.

Submitted by Arivelde on Tue, 03/30/2021 - 16:45

I like a film called "Zorba the Greek", it is based on the novel written by a Cretan author in 1946, but the film was produced in 1964. It is a story that tell the adventures of a writer an a misterios man called Zorba, a miner at the time. It is a kind of fiction, but brings real problems that the society had and still has sometimes in some places in these days. It's a piece of art and everyone shoud watch it.
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Submitted by Andrii on Thu, 11/19/2020 - 16:50

I like the film called "Terminator". The last film "Dark Fate" was made in Hollywood in 2019. I'm sure that it wasn't based on a true story, but I don't know about a book. To be honest, I've never heard about the book, called "Terminator".

Submitted by Vuquan on Tue, 09/08/2020 - 10:45

My favorite film is Endgame. It was made in 2018. The film is so attractive and i very like it. I hope marvel will launch another film like Endgame.
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Submitted by Giovannichoi on Tue, 06/30/2020 - 09:45

Percy Jackson is based on the novel series which were written by Rick Riordan. And those books are about the Greek mythology. Also -as you know,- Thor series is based on the Northern myths, too! So Thor:Ragnarok was setted in Austrailia, by Taika Waititi of MARVEL, stars by Chris Hemsworth, who roled the mighty THOR!!!!! (I fixed my writing below 'cause I made a little mistake.)

Submitted by Nastya53 on Tue, 04/14/2020 - 16:27

My favorite movie is "At Home". It tells of the adventures of a little boy, Kevin, who can protect himself. This movie is very hilarious and is being shown at the best time of the year - for Christmas. Therefore, it is very interesting to watch this film, completely fading into the festive Christmas atmosphere. On the other hand, this movie is instructive, because it teaches us to forgive, love and appreciate the most expensive people of the family, as well as to protect the home.
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Submitted by pidixtoulis on Fri, 03/20/2020 - 17:07

My favourite movie is SKYFALL, a movie which James Bond is the main character

Submitted by languagelearner on Tue, 03/17/2020 - 06:34

so about the film that I like.. I like the film called Need for Speed I am not sure where it was made it is a realistic fiction
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Submitted by Youjiro on Sat, 02/02/2019 - 11:21

I'm really confusing passive forms.I can't understand how to use passive in sentence .Anyway I like pirate of the caribbeans series .It was started 2003.It is not true story.It is fiction film,but It is funny and original .3D graphics design is also enjoyable .My best film is series is latest film.Story was made by same author in series.
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Submitted by IamYegane on Fri, 09/07/2018 - 11:25

This post helped me a lot! Thank ya :))

Submitted by shadowface on Fri, 06/01/2018 - 07:57

Thanks for the advice!
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