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What's passive voice?

 Passive voice is created when the object of the verb in an active-voice sentence  becomes the subject of the verb.

Virginia writes poems.  


Poems are written by Virginia. 

 In passive voice, the action is performed by the object of the clause in active voice. The subject of the active voice sentence becomes the object of the preposition, by.
 The verb BE is used with the past participle to create the  passive voice, are written. The past participle is the same participle or verb form used to form the perfect tense. That is why I call it the perfect-passive participle.
 Linguists work between active and passive voice by calling them different surface structures of a common deep structure.  When John eats an apple, John and the apple maintain the same relationship to each other in both active and passive voice. 

Here are active-voice sentences (blue).

They are transformed to passive-voice sentences (yellow).

Jennifer read a book.

A book was read by Jennifer.

We ate dinner at seven o'clock.

Dinner was eaten by us at seven o'clock. 

Our waiter spoke Spanish.

Spanish was spoken by our waiter.

My father barbecued beef ribs. 

Beef ribs were barbecued by my father.

John wrote a good poem. 

A good poem was written by John.

The teacher gave a good lecture. 

A good lecture was given by the teacher.

The congressmen cheered the president. 

The president was cheered by the congressmen. 

The old lady watered her flower bed.

The flower bed was watered by the old lady.

Wanda watched The Perfect Storm on TV.

The Perfect Storm was watched by Wanda on TV.  

The guests drank a lot of beer at the party. 

A lot of beer was drunk by the guests at the party.