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.

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

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

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

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

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

6) 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.

3) 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.

1) I definitely didn’t break the laptop.  

The laptop ________

2) Has someone invited Jan to the cinema?

Has ______________ to the cinema?

3) They hadn’t told us about the school trip.

 We ______________ the school trip.

4) Our teacher will explain the answers next week.

The answers ______________ our teacher next week.

5) They were showing students around the museum.

 Students ______________ around the museum.

6) 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

1) 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.