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English definition of “passive”


noun [S]     /ˈpæs.ɪv/ specialized
the passive B1 the form of a verb used when the grammatical subject is the person or thing that experiences the effect of an action, rather than the person or thing which causes the effect: When changed into the passive, 'The dog chased the cat' becomes 'The cat was chased by the dog'. → Compare activeVerb forms, tenses and types of verbs activeGrammar:PassiveSee moreGrammar:Passive: active and passiveWe use the terms active voice and passive voice to talk about ways of organising the content of a clause:See moreGrammar:Passive: formsSee moreGrammar:Passives with an agentWe use the preposition by to introduce the doer or the agent of the action. We use this structure when the agent is important:See moreGrammar:Passives without an agentPassive structures without an agent are very common. We use these structures when an agent is not important, or is unknown or obvious:See moreGrammar:Passive: usesUsing the passive allows the speaker or writer to make choices about what is important.See moreGrammar:Passive: other formsOther structures that have passive characteristics are the get-passive and get/have something done:See moreGrammar:Passive: typical errorsSee moreGrammar:Word order and focusThere are a number of ways in which we can arrange subjects, verbs, objects, complements and adjuncts within a clause. Depending on how we arrange them, we can focus on certain elements over others, especially if we arrange them in an unusual way.See moreGrammar:Word order: structuresThere are a number of options which we can use to add emphasis or focus within a clause.See moreGrammar:Indirect object versus prepositional complementWhen we talk about someone receiving something, we can express it using the typical word order: indirect object (io) + direct object (do).See moreGrammar:Active and passive voiceActive voice is the typical word order. That is when we put the subject (the doer) first, followed by the new information (which is the focus):See moreGrammar:Cleft sentencesCleft means ‘divided’ and in a cleft sentence a single message is divided across two clauses. We use cleft sentences, especially in speaking, to connect what is already understood to what is new to the listener. By doing this we can focus on the new information. There are different types of cleft sentence.See more
(Definition of passive noun from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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