: Business Grammar Builder. : (.. .. )


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Unit 9 passive 1


 Form A


 To make the passive we use to be and a past participle:


Intel produces millions of chips every year.

Our supplier is shipping the goods next


The government raised the interest rates by 1\%.

He was asking me some difficult


They have chosen the new design.

Rosa will give a press briefing tomorrow. We can arrange a loan within six days. We may give you some new sales targets.


Millions of chips are produced every year.

The goods are being shipped next week.

Interest rates were raised by 1\%. I was being asked some difficult


The new design has been chosen.

A press briefing will be given tomorrow.


A loan can be arranged within six days. You may be given some new sales targets.


 The object in the active sentence (millions of chips/interest rates) moves to the front in the passive sentence and becomes the subject.


 We form negatives and questions in the same way as in the active sentences:

The new design hasnt been chosen.

Has the new design been chosen?


 Uses: focus on important information B


 In the active sentences above the person or organisation who does the action

(Intel/The government/Rosa) is important.


 In the passive sentences above the person or organisation who does the action is not mentioned. It might be:

- unimportant

- clear from the situation

- unknown

Instead, the important information is either the action (raised/chosen) or the things effected by the action (Millions of chips/the goods/a press briefing).

 Study these examples:

A very large proportion of world oil production is generated in the Middle


Here the writer wants to emphasise the amount of oil. Who did the action

(generate) is clear or not important.


The North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) was established in 1993 to link the United States, Canada and Mexico in a free trade agreement.

Here the writer wants to say when and why the action happened. Who did the action (establish) is not important.


Deutsche Post AG will offer investors share price discounts and bonus shares as part of its planned initial public offering. These incentives will be offered to retail investors in EU countries who make an early subscription. Here the writer wants to give information about the incentives. Who will do the action (offer) is not important or not known.


 Uses: systems and processes C


 We often use the passive to talk about systems, processes and procedures: The barley use to make malt whisky takes about seven months to grow in the field. In August the barley is harvested and then left to rest for a couple of months. The next step is malting, an ancient chemistry full of tradition. It gives a rich, warm flavour to the whisky and causes the grain to produce starches, which are converted to sugar at a later stage of the process. The malted barley is rested for about three weeks then ground into flour and placed into huge vessels where it is mixed with hot water to make a wort. The wort is cooled, then run into another vessel. Here, yeast is added, and the starch is turned into sugars, producing a clear liquid called the wash. It is distillation that turns this wash into whisky. In distilling, the liquid is heated until the spirit turns to vapour, then condensed back into liquid, by law, Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years.


 To show a sequence in process we use words like: Firstly/First of all, Then, The next step, Next, After that, Finally:

First of all the finished products are checked for quality, then they are packed and sent out from our warehouse. After dispatch we allow

customers to follow the progress of their order on our Intranet. Finally, we get a digital image of the signature of the person who receives the goods, so that this can be checked later, if necessary.

 Saying who does the action D


 In all the passive examples above the person or organisation that does the action is not mentioned. If we want to say who does the action then we use by:

The goods are being shipped next week by our supplier in China.


 Transitive and intransitive verbs E


 Verbs which usually take objects are called transitive verbs (e.g.: help).

Verbs which do not usually take objects are called intransitive verbs

(e.g.: look).

A: Can I help you?

B: No, Im just looking.


Dictionaries show this information with T or I. Some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive. Only transitive verbs can be made passive.


Raise (T) Increase (T/I) Go up (I)


Interest rates were raised last month. Interest rates were increased last month. Interest rates were gone up last month.


possible possible

not possible



Exercise 1 (A)

Complete each sentence with a passive verb. You may need a negative form.


1 Somebody damaged the goods in transit.

The goods .. in transit.

2 Thousands of people see this advert every day.

This advert .. by thousands of people every day.

3 They will not finish the project by the end of the month.

The project .. by the end of the month.

4 They have closed fifty retail outlets over the last year.

Fifty retail outlets .. over the last year.

5 We are reviewing all of our IT systems.

All of our IT systems .. .

6 We cannot ship our order until we receive payment.

Your order .. until we receive payment.


Exercise 2 (B, D)

Decide if it is necessary to say who does the action. If it is not necessary, put a tick


1 I dont think your proposal will be accepted by people.

2 The company was founded by the father of the present chairman.

3 All our machines are serviced by highly trained technicians.

4 This machine isnt working again! It was repaired yesterday by a technician.

5 The conference was opened by someone from the London Business School.

6 Ill be shown round the factory by someone, and then Ill meet the sales team.


Exercise 3 (A, B, C)

A marketing manager is writing a training manual that explains how the company uses questionnaires to do market research. Complete the text by putting the verbs from the list below into the Present Simple Passive.


design send back distribute offer put outsource analyse



I noted down some questions to ask you.

(= write on paper)

First, we carefully select a sample of people to ask. Then the questions (1) .. by a small team within the department. Next, the questions (2) .. into sequence and grouped together by topic. After that, we print the questionnaire and it (3) .. to everyone in the sample. Of course, not all of the forms (4) .. to us, but we try to collect as many as possible.


Sometimes a small gift (5) .. to people who return the forms, as an incentive. Finally we enter all the results onto a spreadsheet, and the information (6) .. by the marketing department. If we are using a very large sample the distribution and collection (7) .. to an external company.


Exercise 4 (A, B, D, E)

Rewrite these sentences using passive if it is possible. You may need a negative form. If it is not possible (because the verb is intransitive) put a cross (x).


1 Our R & D department have discovered a promising new drug.


2 The inflation rate went down by 0.5\% last month.


3 One of our best young designers created this line.


4 Im sorry, we cant do that.


5 Something very interesting happened to me last week.


6 Were spending more than a million dollars on advertising this year.


7 The Accounts Department may not authorize this payment.


8 I worked as a consultant for four years after my MBA.




She put forward an interesting idea.

(= suggested)

Exercise 5 (A, B)

Helen is starting her own business. Look at the extract from her planning schedule, then complete her letter to a business advice service. Choose either the Present Perfect Passive (has/have been done), Present Continuous Passive (is/are/ being done) or a modal passive form (e.g.: should be done).


Contract bank to arrange loan. Find office space.

Equipment needed? Order if necessary. Print business cards, stationary, etc. Decorate office, order furniture, etc. Place advertisement in local press.

Review staffing needs for Christmas period.

In progress

In progress

Finish end of month




Dear Sir or Madam


I am writing to arrange an interview with one of your business advisers to discuss my business start-up. Ive analysed the market very carefully and I believe that I have a good business plan. I can give you a few details of my progress so far.


Ive had several meetings with my bank, and a loan (1) .. (arrange). Ive found some office space in a good location, although some work (2) .. (will/need) there before I can move in. Ive reviewed my equipment needs and in fact some specialised items (3) .. (order) at the moment. My business cards (4) .. (print) and will be ready in a week or so. This week Im busy decorating the office, and I (5) .. (should/finish) by the end of the month.


I know that soon Ill have to advertise in the local press, and perhaps you could advise me on this mailer. Finally, Id like some help planning my staffing

needs - extra staff (6) .. (might/ need) over the Christmas period.


Yours faithfully

Helen Chadwick



The meeting has been brought forward.

(= moved to an earlier time)

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