Active and passive voice

Active and passive voice


At the end of this lesson students will be able to form sentences using the passive voice.

  • Use of the verb ‘be’ with a past participle to form the passive.
  • Using correct word order in passive sentences.

Students will also learn about Scotland, avalanches and they will learn new vocabulary.

It is easy to connect this unit to other subjects (for example physics, geography, social studies).

The main objective is to learn how to form sentences in passive voice. In the process students will also learn new vocabulary about mountaineering, rescue operations and avalanches. Students will learn a few interesting facts about Scotland and Scottish geography.

The work in the classroom centers around the use of passive form, study and use of new vocabulary and learning more about Scottish geography and culture.


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Two people are in critical condition following an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands

The Independent (online) Thursday, Feb 14 2013

Two people are in a critical condition following an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands.

A third person has also been flown to hospital, however their condition is unknown.

A rescue operation was launched shortly after 12.30pm in the Chalamain Gap area of the Cairngorms, Northern Constabulary said. Police, Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, search and rescue dogs, RAF Lossiemouth's mountain rescue team and a helicopter were all involved. One man was rescued and airlifted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Shortly afterwards, another two people were found and were also flown to hospital in Aberdeen.

Police said the rescue operation had now been stood down.

NHS Grampian confirmed two of the casualties are in a critical condition. No further information was given on the third. It is the latest in a series of avalanche incidents in the Scottish mountains in recent weeks.

Earlier this week, a hillwalker died during an expedition with a mountaineering club in the Cairngorms. Graham Connell, 31, from Castleford, West Yorkshire, was found dead in the Jacob's Ladder area on Monday, following a large-scale search for him and five other people who were reported overdue on Sunday afternoon.

The other members in the party, who were unhurt, were picked up by an RAF rescue helicopter after being located by Braemar Mountain Rescue Team on a hill near Carn Tarsuinn. The search, co-ordinated by Northern Constabulary and Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, involved more than 100 people.

The walkers were part of a larger group of 35 people visiting the Highlands.

In a separate incident earlier this month, three men survived falling 150 metres in an avalanche in the Coire an t-Sneachda area of the Cairngorms.

The men, who were wearing helmets, were airlifted to hospital with leg injuries. The avalanche, on February 2, was the second in the region that day.


PA. (2013). Two people are in a critical condition following an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands.. Available: http://goo.gl/rONN.

Last accessed 14th Feb 2013.

(News agency article, modified by a staff writer. Writer is not named.)

Source: http://goo.gl/rONN. The Independent online.

Scotland, avalanhces, mountain rescue

Audio version of the above text.

Source: Teacher's own recording

Learn new vocabulary and practice pronunciation

Reading tasks.

Reading and vocabulary. Task 1

1. Read the text quickly and answer two questions.

  • What is the reason for these rescue operations in the Scottish Highlands ?
  • How are the injured transported to hospital

Reading and vocabulary. Task 2

Read the text in more detail and do the following exercises.

1. Answer the questions.

  • Who took part in the rescue operation in Chalamain Gap area?
  • What happened earlier in the week?
  • What happened to the three men who were caught in an avalanche in the Coire an t-Sneachda area?

Source: Teacher's own material

Introduction to passive voice

Look at the highlighted parts of the text and make notes about the sentences:

  • Word order (parts of speech)
  • Verb forms (main verb)
  • Use of the verb "be".

How do they differ from other sentences, for example this one:

"NHS Grampian confirmed two of the casualties are in a critical condition"


Source: Teacher's own material

Active and Passive voice

Learn how to form passive sentences and learn how and when to use passive voice.


(N.B. You will need to download Explain Everything (free software) to be able to play this tutorial.)

Source: Teacher's own material

Active and Passive voice, more links and information.

Easy introduction to passive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTQb42w7oig

​Another easy introduction to passive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xTreaklNr8

A more advanced explanation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qI4mwcCftdM

Source: YouTube.com

Test your knowledge

Check that you know how form passive sentences. Do the following exercise AND then create (and write) at least 5 sentences using the passive voice. 

2. Fill in the gaps. Choose from the following expressions. 

has been taken,                               has been stood down,                                    

                          was given,                                             

        were found,                      were reported


a. A third person  _ _ _  also   _ _ _ _    _ _ _ _ _   to hospital.

b. No further information  _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _ on the third.

c. Shortly afterwards, another two people _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _.

d. Police said the rescue operation  _ _ _    now   _ _ _      _ _ _ _ _ _    _ _ _ _.

e. Five other people who  _ _ _ _   ­_ _ _ _ _ ­­_ _ _    _ _ _ _ _ _  on Sunday afternoon.

My own sentences:






Source: Teacher's own material

More information about avalanches and about Scotland

Thinglink image that contains more information about Scotland and avalanches.

Click on the icons on the image to access the materials.


Source: Material created by the teacher.

Group work in the class

Here are a few examples of things we will do in class. It is not necessary to do these at home, but you can prepare if you like.

Speaking and writing. Task 1

Answer the following questions.

Are avalanches common in Scottish Highlands?

What kind of equipment or resources do the rescue teams use in search and rescue operations?

Discuss with your partner:

1. Why do you think so many people get injured and killed in avalanches?

2. What can be done to prevent people from getting killed and injured in the mountains?

Speaking and writing. Task 2

Work in groups. Write a dialogue and present it to the class. You are expected to use a few expressions in passive voice in each discussion.

Make notes if necessary. Be prepared to present the dialogue to others in front of the class. (Role play activity)

Group A:

Write a dialogue between a journalist who has come to Cairngorm to write a story about the avalanche and a police officer who is leading the rescue efforts.

Persons: Journalist, Police spokesperson

Place: Cairngorm police station

Group B:

Write a discussion between a search team member and a person who was injured and was rescued from the mountain.

Persons: Search and rescue- team member, An injured person

Place: In the mountains, at the scene of the accident

Group C:

Write a dialogue between a person who was rescued and a relative who has been worried about him / her. (For example a phone call from a rescued person to his mother.

Persons: Injured person, His / her mother

Place: Phone conversation. Mother is at home. Injured person is at the hospital.

Group D:

Write a dialogue between two local people who have seen a number of avalanches and rescue missions.

Persons: Local person 1, Local person 2

Place: Village pub

Source: Teacher's own material