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Consider the sentence "The dog was poisoned."

The subject "dog", with the linking verb "was", and the verb "poisoned". Why is this sentence considered passive voice?

  • As a quick and general rule, if you can add by zombies to the end of the sentence (and it's still understandable), then it's very likely passive. – Jason Bassford Apr 26 at 16:00
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First of all, you need to understand what is used to form the passive voice.

Passive voice is basically formed from two things:

To be verb (am, is, are, was, were) + past participle verb form (done, eaten, brought...)

Passive voice is when the object becomes the subject.

So, where is the real subject of the sentence? What is interesting is that in passive voice structures, you don't need to add the real subject of the sentence, which we call the hidden subject. If you want to make it visible, you can use the adverb By:

John poisoned the cat - active voice

The cat was poisoned by John - passive voice

So, basically, a sentence is considered to be passive when the object becomes the subject but still is the receiver of the action, i.e: the cat may be the subject, but it doesn't change the fact that it still received the poisoning.

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