In a passive sentence, the subject does not perform the action in the sentence. In fact, the action is performed on it.
Anita was driven to the theatre.
(In this example, "Anita" is the subject of the sentence - subject of the verb "was". However, she did not perform the action of the verb "to drive". The action was done to her; she was the recipient of the action.)
Nowadays, kites are protected.
("kites" - passive subject, i.e., the action is being done to them)
The olives are stoned and crushed in this area.
("olives" - passive subject, i.e., the actions are being done to them)
In a passive sentence, the person or thing doing the action is usually preceded by the word "by".
Anita was driven to the theatre by Carla.
Nowadays, kites are protected by law.
The olives are stoned and crushed in this area by my son.
The opposite of a passive sentence is an active sentence, in which the subject does perform the action of the verb.
Glossary of grammatical terms
Click on the passive sentence:
Many companies do not like their staff to write using passive sentences. Therefore, a number of grammar checkers will often suggest an active version of your passive sentence. However, if you prefer the passive version, stick with it.
Passive Sentences Are UsefulPassive sentences are quite useful if youíre trying not to apportion blame.
The document had been released into the public domain.
(passive sentence Ė no blame)
Look at the active version:
Jackie released the document into the public domain.
Here are some good reasons to use a passive sentence:
When you donít want to reveal who was responsible (some more examples)
Bad advice was given.
A serious failing in standing operating procedures had occurred.
When the doer of the action is general, unknown or obvious
Pistachio nuts are grown in Iran.
His parade uniform was stolen.
English and German are spoken in many Cornish campsites.
The windows must be secured.
Divorces are made in heaven. (Oscar Wilde)
To put something you want to emphasize at the start of your sentence
An estimated 258,000 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes.
To use the same subject twice (e.g. once in an active clause and once in a passive one)
Martin crashed into the barrier and was tossed in the crowd.