Simple States or Passive Voice?

simple passive verb formsI recently had a question through this website but the return email didn’t work, so I’ve posted my answer in the hope that the reader sees it! It relates to spotting the difference between the past simple and the passive voice – specifically, how we can use different verb forms to follow the verb to be. Here we go: Continue reading

Recognising verb constructions following “to be”

to be verb formsThe verb “to be” can be used in descriptive clauses or as an auxiliary verb to create certain grammatical structures, such as the continuous tenses and the passive voice. This can lead to confusion when a verb or verb form follows the verb “to be” – how do you recognise which structure is being used? Consider this example: “The museum is supposed to be _______ in the morning.” (open) Opening would form the continuous tense, open would be an adjective form, opened would form a passive sentence. Each of these could be arguably correct – so how do we know the difference? Continue reading

How to write formal sentences using the passive voice

formal sentences passive voiceFormal, or polite, sentences often use the passive voice because it sounds more impersonal and neutral. Active sentences, on the other hand, can seem personal, or direct, which can sound too casual or too aggressive. Consider the following active sentences, and how they might be interpreted:

  • You must do something to change this. (Personal threat)
  • We will mark the exams this weekend. (Personal action)

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