English Grammar Exercises for B2 – The passive

1. Choose the correct options (a-c) to complete the text.

Most of us take antibiotics for granted. They 1 ___ to treat many illnesses caused by bacteria, and until now, patients 2 ___ them successfully to prevent infection following minor surgery and routine operations. Now, though, the public 3 ___ that some bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics, and unless action 4 ___ soon, we could be ‘back to the dark ages’ when people 5 ___ by common illnesses on a regular basis. Experts explain that in a large group of bacteria, there may be some which 6 ___ by antibiotics; when these bacteria survive and reproduce, they increase the number of resistant bacteria to dangerous levels. Now scientists are raising concerns about a possible outbreak of a resistant infection. They predict that two in every five people who are affected by a resistant infection 7 ___ .

1   a  were used

b are used

     c  had been used

2   a  have been given

b are being given

     c  will be given

3   a  were being warned

b are warned

     c  are being warned

4   a  will be taken

b is taken

     c  has been taken

5   a  were killed

b had been killed

     c  have been killed

6   a  are destroyed

b aren’t destroyed

     c  weren’t destroyed

7   a  have been killed

b are killed

 c  will be killed

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1 b   2 a   3 c   4 b   5 a   6 b   7 c

2. Complete the sentences with the correct passive form of the verbs in brackets.

Antibiotics ________ (prescribe) by doctors to fight disease for many years.

What would our lives be life if X-ray machines ________ (not invent)?

Scientists believe that a vaccine to prevent malaria ________ (develop) soon.

In the past, many patients ________ (infect) each year in dirty hospitals.

Natural plant remedies for illnesses ________ (discover) all the time.

Anaesthetics ________ (not use) in operations until the 19th century.

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1 have been prescribed   2 hadn’t been invented

3 will be developed   4 were infected

5 are being discovered   6 weren’t used

3. Rewrite each sentence in two ways, using the underlined words as the subjects and leaving out the agent.

1   The teacher gave each student a book.

      Each student was given a book.

      A book was given to each student.

2   They have offered both of us a place at university.


3   Mum cooked me a special dinner last night.


4   She’s lending the money to Anna.


5   best friend has just sent me a text message.


6   Do you think they’ll give him the job?


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2 Both of us have been offered a place at university. / A place at university has been offered to both of us.

I was cooked a special dinner last night. / A special dinner was cooked for me last night.

4 The money is being lent to Anna. / Anna is being lent the money.

5 I’ve just been sent a text message. / A text message has just been sent to me.

6 Do you think he’ll be given the job? / Do you think the job will be given to him?

4. Complete the text with the correct passive form of the verbs below.

bite      cause      give      improve      know      raise

Louis Pasteur 1 _________ as the scientist who proved ‘germ theory’ after he discovered that many illnesses 2 _________ by tiny organisms. He 3 _________ in France, and it was there that farmers asked the scientist to investigate why their wine turned sour; Pasteur discovered that heating the wine destroyed the harmful bacteria which made the wine go off. He later focused on human medicine. A woman took her son to Pasteur because the boy 4 _________ by a dog suffering from rabies; Pasteur cured him in the first-known attempt at vaccination, a process in which a person 5 _________ a small amount of a dead or weak germ, so that they produce antibodies that fight the disease. Medicine 6 _________ hugely thanks to Pasteur, as vaccination prevents millions of deaths every year.

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1 is known   2 are / were caused   3 was raised

4 had been bitten   5 is given   6 was / has been improved

5. Compete the second sentence using the correct passive tense so that it means the same as the first.

I definitely didn’t break the laptop.  

The laptop ________

Has someone invited Jan to the cinema?

Has ______________ to the cinema?

They hadn’t told us about the school trip.

 We ______________ the school trip.

Our teacher will explain the answers next week.

The answers ______________ our teacher next week.

They were showing students around the museum.

 Students ______________ around the museum.

The government is advising people not to travel there.

      People ______________ travel there.

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1 definitely wasn’t broken by me / was definitely not broken by me.

2 Jan been invited   3 hadn’t been told about

4 will be explained (to us) by   5 were being shown

6 are being advised (by the government) not to

6. Rewrite the sentences in the passive. Do not include the agent.

1   Someone has stolen mountain bike.


2   They are building a new sports centre.


3   They’ll postpone the race if it rains.


4   They had cancelled our flight.


5   They’re going to close the swimming pool.


6   They cut the grass every week.


Show answers

mountain bike has been stolen.

2 A new sports centre is being built.

3 The race will be postponed if it rains.

4 Our flight had been cancelled.

5 The swimming pool is going to be closed.

6 The grass is / was cut every week.