Unit 4: The Passive Voice

Breaking the Ice

$1- Do you know what Sexually Transmitted Diseases are?

$1- Can you mention them?

$1- Which do you consider is the most dangerous?

$1- Do you know anybody infected with HIV?

$1- Do you know about the methods to avoid getting STDs?

$1- What does our government do with HIV infected people?

$1- Do they have to pay for the medicines and treatment?

Practice and Learn

In this unit we are going to continue speaking about the Passive voice. Remember we use the passive when we want to show that the action of the verb is more important than the person who carries out the action.

$1- The agent (the person who carries out the action) is introduced with the preposition by and is mentioned only when the identity of the agent is important or needs to be stated.

$1- The agent is not mentioned when:

$1a) It is unknown

$1b) It is unimportant

$1c) It is obvious from the context

To turn a sentence from the active into the passive:

$1a) The object of the active sentence becomes the subject in the passive sentence.

$1b) The active verb changes into a passive form.

$1c) The subject of the active sentence becomes the agent.

Kim baked a cake.
A cake was baked by Kim.

$1- Only the verbs that take an object can be turned into the passive.

Ex. Susan cleans the silver. The silver is cleaned by Susan.

It is snowing today.

$1- When the subject of the active sentence is one of the following words: people, one, someone/somebody, they, he, etc., the agent is often omitted in the passive sentence.

$1- Objects pronouns (me, you, him, etc.) become subject pronouns (I,you,he, etc.) in the passive.

Ex. He gave this book to me. I was given this book.

$1- When the verb of the active sentence is followed by a preposition, the preposition is kept in the passive sentence as well.

Ex. Burglars broke into our house last night. Our house was broken into last night.

Continuous and Perfect Passives: Form

$1- Continuous and perfect forms of the passive all have two auxiliaries before the past participle of a transitive verb.

$1- To form the present continuous passive, use am, is, or are + being + the past participle.

$1- To form the past continuous passive, use was, or were + being + the past participle.

$1- To form the present perfect passive, use have, or has + been + the past participle.

$1- To form the past perfect passive, use had + been + the past participle.

Statements Contractions

I am being helped. I’m

He is being helped. He’s

We are being helped. We’re

I was being helped.

They were being helped.

I have been helped. I’ve

He has been helped. He’s

I had been helped. I’d


Work with a partner. Complete the following conversation with the appropriate simple present form of the passive, using contractions whenever possible. Then practice the conversation.

A: When __________________________ (collect/trash) in your neighborhood?

B: It _________________________ (pick up) on Mondays, but we don’t have much trash anymore. Almost everything we use _________________ (recycle).

A: And _________________________ (collect/the recycled items) too?

B: Some of them __________________________ (collect). Newspapers, glass, and cans _______________________ (take away) by a private recycling company that ________________________ (pay) by the city.

A: And then what ________________________ (do) with all of that stuff?

B: It _________________________ (separate) once more and _________________ (sell) to other companies for recycling.

Work on your own. Create meaningful active or passive sentences in the past with the words in parentheses. Make the first word in parentheses the subject of your sentence.

$11- (the medicine/take/the patient)

Example: The medicine was taken by the patient.

$12- (the patient/take/the medicine)

Example: The patient took the medicine.

$13- (the glass/drop/ the child)

$14- (the concert/attend/thousands of people)

$15- (the cake/cost/quite a bit)

$16- (soccer/play/on Sundays at 2:00 P.M.)

$17- (we/cancel/the appointment)

$18- (the waiter/take/the order)

$19- (the car/repair/two mechanics)

$110-(the baby/cry/for an hour)

$111-(the package/mail/the woman/early in the morning)

$112-(the shoes/buy/at the mall)

Ver página 437 ex 20. Intermediate Grammar.

Ver página 89 ex 10 (inciso5 no) Grammar way II.

Rewrite the following passage in the passive.

Someone started a fire in the Courtney National Park early yesterday morning. They had used a match and some petrol to start the fire. The fire had burnt a lot of trees before someone called the fire brigade. The police have arrested a man. They are still questioning him.

Read and learn.

Dreams and Desires.

For the first time in the 20-year history of the AIDS epidemic, more women than men have been infected with HIV. Globally, women now account for more than 50 per cent of those infected due to a host of socio-political, cultural and biological reasons. These stories by women from around the world aim to highlight what it means to be a sexually active HIV positive woman.

Violeta was born in La Paz, Bolivia, and was diagnosed with HIV in May 2000.

“When I was younger, no one ever spoke to me honestly about anything related to sex and sexuality, so I learned most of what I know in secrecy.

When I was 20 years old I was raped. I suspect the two men responsible for doing this also infected me, but they were strangers and I never met them again. Being a rape survivor damaged my self image for a long time and the impact of that experience on my sexual life was enormous. I felt destroyed and I engaged in sex without any caution or care for myself. I wanted to die. Three years after I was raped I discovered I had HIV.

I have never been pregnant, so I don’t know what it feels like, but I am conscious that for me becoming a mother is more complex than for women who are not living with HIV. I want very much to have a baby, but I want to be confident he or she will be okay in every sense.

The future feels uncertain and I do not dwell on it. I prefer to concentrate on the present – I am alive today and I will live today to the full. Tomorrow will bring its own problems. In my ideal future, I dream of being the mother of two beautiful babies, married to a loving husband and working in a relevant HIV organization.

Asha is 28 years old. She was born in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she still lives. She was diagnosed with HIV eight years ago.

“Most of the HIV positive women in Nepal are widowed and/or abandoned by their family. This means they have a lot of worry apart from their sexual and reproductive health. Staying alive and keeping safe are their main concerns. In my case, two years after my diagnosis I married an HIV positive man. Even though I would like to have a child, I will not. Before, I was frightened that without access to Nevipirine to prevent mother-to-child transmission the baby would be infected. Even though Nevipirine has recently become available in Kathmandu, I am still afraid I would have an unsafe delivery because of my poor health. The other problem is that my husband and I could not afford a baby-it is already hard enough for the two of us to survive. In any case, I have become very weak and I’ve also developed an allergy to most of the food I can afford to buy.

The constant need to monitor and take care of one’s health is impossible for most HIV positive women in Nepal, including me. Taking proper care of my health is far too costly.

My life changed forever the moment I was diagnosed with HIV. I don’t have any great plans now, but as long as I am alive I want to do something to help other HIV positive women in Nepal.

Susan is 35 years old. She was born in London, England. She is twice divorced and currently cohabiting with her partner of three years. She has two children aged 10 and 12. She was diagnosed in January 1999.

“I’m conscious of the fact that I’m very lucky. I live in a country where I have free access to treatment, unlike the majority of women living with HIV in other parts of the world. I was also diagnosed at a time when anti-retrovirals were available for treating HIV effectively, so I’ve never had to face the feeling that my diagnosis was an inevitable death sentence.

I imagine my dreams and desires regarding my reproductive and sexual health are very similar to women who are not living with HIV. I aspire to have lots of sex in the future, despite gravity and age beginning to have an alarming impact!

I hope that my HIV status does not affect any possible future sexual relationships, although ideally I plan to have a very long term relationship with my current partner.

I don’t believe the fact that I happen to be living with HIV should be a barrier to having sexual relationships. I have never been rejected by a sexual partner because of my HIV status, but I was fearful about disclosing my status to my current partner when we first starting seeing each other.

We always endeavor to use condoms when we have sex. I must confess that the one time we slipped up I became pregnant so far the pregnancy has gone without incident. I didn’t need to change my HIV medication and because I have an undetectable viral load the risk of transmitting HIV to my baby is less than one per cent. I don’t intend to have any more children after I give birth. This has nothing to do with my HIV status- it purely concerns my age.

$11. From the text

$1a) Did Violeta know anything related to sex and sexuality when she was young?

$1b) How did Violeta acquire the HIV virus?

$1c) What was her reaction after being raped?

$1d) What is her dream for the future?

$1e) What is the situation of most HIV positive women in Nepal?

$1f) What does it mean to them?

$1g) Does Asha have the same problem? Why?

$1h) Can Asha and her husband have a child? Why?

$1i) How is her health state?

$1j) What does she need to take care of her health?

$1k) Where is Susan from?

$1l) Why does Susan say she is very lucky?

$1m) How does she feel living with HIV?

$1n) What are her dreams and desires to the future?

2. Write a small paragraph comparing Violeta´s, Asha´s, and Susan’s situation taking into account the country where they live, their way of life and their dreams and desires.

3. Pick out sentences in passive voice in the following verbal tenses, and rewrite them in active voice.

$1a) Two sentences in Simple Present Tense.

$1b) Two sentences in Simple Past Tense.

$1c) A sentence in Present Perfect.

Follow up

I- Work with a partner. Use the simple present passive form of the verbs in parentheses to complete each definition. For numbers 6-9, use the verb in parentheses and your own words.

$11) Wine is an alcoholic beverage that ______________ (make) from grapes.

$12) A guide dog is a canine that _______________ (train) to lead a blind person.

$13) Grizzly bears are large, powerful animals that ______________ (find) in North America.

$14) Mother’s Day is an international day that _________________ (celebrate) on the second Sunday in May.

$15) Silk is a smooth, soft cloth that ___________ (make) from fine thread. The thread _________________ (produce) by a silkworm.

$16) Caffeine is a stimulant that _____________________________________ (find).

$17) May Day is an international holiday that ________________________________ (celebrate).

$18) A mango is a fruit that _________________________________________ (use).

$19) A tuxedo is a garment that _____________________________________ (wear).

II- Work with a partner. Describe the results of the following situations using present and past perfect passive sentences with the words in parentheses.

$11. A serious flu epidemic has recently spread through your area.

(some schools/ close)

Example: some schools have been closed.

(several business/shut down)

(many public events/cancel)

(more doctors/need)

(several new treatments/try)

(many flu shots/give)

(hundreds of people/treat)

$12. An earthquake had rocked southern California before the hurricane hit the state.

(several homes/damage)

Example: Several homes had been damaged.

(one major road/close for an hour)

(twelve people/injure)

(one person/kill)

(many windows/shatter)

(one building/destroy)

(one person/hospitalize)

(no major power lines/affect)

Complementary Text



Junk Food

One factor that contributes to prolonging life and opening up the possibility of living to 120 years of age is to maintain a healthy diet and ensure that the notion of pleasure is associated as much with the palate as with the senses of smell, touch, and sight.

Taking pleasure in eating is not necessarily related to great feasts of over-elaborate preparation. Nor is a healthy diet defined by strict prohibitions and boring meals. The criteria surrounding the definition of “tasty” changes according to different cultures and regions of the world, thus demonstrating that this is principally influenced by habits.

Modifying this habits in our diet, learning to select products that are both healthy and pleasantly flavored, can help to prevent different illnesses, such as arteriosclerosis and hypertension, amongst others.

Risk associated with poor diet excesses and deficiencies, the effects of which range from malnutrition to obesity and other ailments. One of the habits that particularly lead to obesity is the consumption of large quantities of so-called “junk food”, such as hamburgers, doughnuts, ice cream, sodas and French fries. Obesity is a common problem in developed countries but organizations such as the Pan-American Health Organization warn that there is also an increase in Third World Countries as a consequence of unbalanced diets caused by poverty. There, the consumption of junk food is being globalized as are illnesses.

All these matters should be learnt from an early age in the family and educational environment. It is a priority to give importance to understanding which foodstuffs we really need, in order to help us extend the length and improve the quality of our lives. That is the reason for living for 120 years.

Taken from Granma International (Havana June 27, 2004)

From the text answer the following questions:

$11. What is one of the factors that contribute to prolong life?

$12. What other senses are associated as much as the palate with the notion of pleasure?

$13. Is a healthy diet defined by strict prohibitions and boring meals?

$14. Does the criteria of tasty surrounding the definition of “tasty” change according to different cultures? Why do you think so?

$15. What can help to prevent many different illnesses? Mention examples of these illnesses.

$16. What is one particular habit that leads to obesity?

$17. What is junk food according to what you read?

$18. Find in the text examples of junk food. Mention some others that, from your point of view, can be also considered as junk food.

$19. Is obesity a common problem in developed countries? What happens in Third World countries?

$110. Is the consumption of junk food being globalized?

$111.Should these aspects related to a healthy diet be learnt from an early age in the family and in the educational environment? What’s your opinion about it?

$112. In your case, how often do you eat this kind of food?

$113.Would you eat something different if you had other choices in your meals?

$114.Will you change your diet from now on? What makes you think this way?

Complementary text





The Science of Biology.

Biology is the study of all living things that inhabit the universe. About a million different types (or species) of plants and animals have been recognized on our planet. They are classified in an almost infinite variety of sizes and shapes, from the smallest microorganisms to the most complex forms. There are many other still undiscovered and undescribed organisms, especially in the virtually unexplored seas, which cover about 70 per cent of the earth’s surface. New species are continually evolving from existing organisms, while others are becoming extinct. Still others remain relatively stable, undergoing little change during long periods of time.

The field of biology is almost indescribably large. The abundance of living forms is further complicated by the fact that each species, from the relatively simple to the most intricate, is really a highly complex structural and functional entity. Consequently, the science of biology is divided into several disciplines. These, on the other hand, are subdivided into still more highly specialized areas of study. There is, for example, zoology, which deals with the study of animals, while botany deals with the study of plants. Each of these, in addition, is subdivided into more specific disciplines. Thus under zoology we have ornithology (the study of birds), mammalogy (the study of mammals) and others.

As examples of other disciplines there is physiology, which studies the function of living things, and morphology, which studies their form and structure. But physiology can be further subdivided, for instance, into endocrinology (studying the functioning of the glands that secrete hormones) and neurophysiology).

The history of biology in general reflects the history of science. It symbolizes man’s progress in his search for truth, and it signifies the tremendous victory of rational thought and careful research and observation of the world around us.

From the piece of reading:

$11. What does Biology study?

$12. How many species of animals and plants have been recognized on our planet?

$13. How are they classified?

$14. Where are other still undiscovered and undescribed organisms?

$15. Is biology a field almost indescribably?

$16. Why is the abundance of living forms complicated?

$17. Is the science of biology subdivided into different disciplines? Can you mention them?

$18. Does the history of biology reflect the history of science?

$19. What does Biology symbolize?

Complementary text


Health is often defined as a state of physical, mental and social well-being. This also applies to the idea of sexual health. Therefore the promotion of sexual health involves improvement of relations between men and women, understanding of sexuality and the sexual process, and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

STDs used to be called venereal diseases; the most common serious STDs are gonorrhea, syphilis, Chlamydia, chancroid, herpes, genital warts and AIDS. STDs are serious and painful and they can cause a lot of damage to the body-resulting in illness, infertility, disability and death. Most STDs in pregnant women can infect babies in the womb or during delivery, causing severe handicaps and death.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a medical diagnosis for a combination of illnesses which results from a specific weakness of the immune system. AIDS is caused by infection with a type of virus called Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is not one virus, but a family of many similar viruses. There are three stages of HIV infection: a healthy person infected with HIV, illnesses associated with HIV infection may begin to appear and finally the illnesses in AIDS. There are only four ways by which HIV can enter the body: by having sexual intercourse with an infected person, by transfusion of infected blood, by an infected mother to her unborn child and by infected blood in or on needles, syringes or other instruments.

The safer sex practices will reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy and all STDs, including HIV. We are referring to the use of the condom. Condoms act as a barrier s skin to prevent HIV in semen or vaginal secretions from coming into contact with mucous membranes.

For many people, AIDS is particularly frightening and difficult to cope with because HIV infection is invisible. When HIV enters the body, the person starts to make antibodies to fight the infection. It seems that most people take about three months to make antibodies to HIV after infection, but some people take much longer, even years. The ELISA and Western Blot bloods tests detect antibodies to HIV; they do not detect the virus itself.

The improvement of sexual health, in addition to helping prevent the transmission of HIV, also leads to the improvement of health as a whole. Talking with people about safer sex and providing reliable condoms can help people to enjoy sex with less risk of STDs, AIDS or unplanned pregnancy.

Taken from Talking AIDS.

From the reading, say:

$11. What the word Health means to you?

$12. What are the STDs?

$13. How many STDs are known nowadays?. Mention three of them.

$14. What causes AIDS?

$15. How many stages of the HIV infection exist?

$16. Can you mention the four ways by which HIV can enter the body?

$17. Is HIV infection invisible? Why?

$18. What is the method we can use to prevent STDs and unplanned pregnancy?





Cultural notes



From a mountain in Montreal, to an island off the coast of Greece, through an endless succession of sterile hotel rooms to a modest house in a decidedly unfashionable section of Los Angeles, Leonard Cohen has explored that "remote human possibility," with an appetite that is sometimes swollen and sometimes Spartan. For the last thirty-odd years, over the course of eight volumes of poetry, two novels, and now eleven record albums, Leonard Cohen has shared his vision with those among us who realize the mysteries of the interior life is a project never fathomed by the characters of "L. A. Law."

Which is not to say that Leonard's audience is insubstantial. He is revered in Europe, where his album consistently reaches the top ten. There is an annual Leonard Cohen Festival in Krakow, Poland. In England, pop noirists like Morrissey, Nick Cave and Ian McCulloch acknowledge his influence; The Sisters of Mercy even appropriated their name from one of his early songs.

From the future tour book 1993

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bio (seventies) from Paul Dunham in: The Evolution of Canadians






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