Verbs commonly used in the passive – advanced

Vocabulary

We use some verbs more often in the passive than in the active because the agent is either unknown or obvious, or not important to what we want to say:

was born in Italy.

My neighbour’s been arrested!

She was fined £100 for driving without insurance.

Stokholm has been dubbed the Venice of the North.

A reminder will be sent by post.

The stadium was built in 1983.

ADD ONE OF THE VERBS TO THE SENTENCES. YOU MAY NEED TO CHANGE TENSES.

be deemed be earmarked be baffled be jailed be strewn

a. Their work ______ to be of the highest standard.

b. The murderer should ______ for life.

c. The floor had _____ with newspapers and old magazines.

d. I ______ completely ______ and had no idea what had happened.

e. The building has _______ for demolition.


2. ADJECTIVE OR PASSIVE?

Some verbs are so commonly used in the passive, without mentioning an agent, that they work in a similar way to -ed adjectives:

I heard the news and was horrified.

Tuscan truffles are particularly prized for their pungent aroma.

I’m gutted! (Slang = very upset.)


3. PREPOSITIONS

Some common passive verbs collocate with particular prepositions. Here are some examples:

The threat was couched in the vaguest possible terms.

We’ve been conditioned into accepting TV as essential.

The athlete was acclaimed as a national hero.

The old man had been indicted as a war criminal.

I don’t think any of these remarks could be construed as positive.

I’ve been swamped with requests to do concerts all over Europe.


Add a suitable preposition to these sentences:

a. The factory is scheduled ____ demolition next year.

b. The little boy was eventually reunited ____ his parents.

c. These three chapters could be subsumed ______ a new heading.

d. I’ve been shortlisted _____ the Nobel Prize for Literature!


NO PREPOSITION

Some common passive verbs, e.g. be called, be named, be deemed, be dubbed, are not commonly followed by a preposition:

All his efforts were deemed a complete waste of public resources.

I’ve been called many things in my life, but never ‘inspired’.


PHRASAL VERBS

We also commonly use particular phrasal verbs in the passive:

This coat was handed down to me by my older brother.

was so caught up in my book that I failed to realise the time.

The get-out clause was written into their contract.