1. Review: the present continuous tense

The present continuous tense is used for things that are happening now.

To make the present continuous, use:

  • subject + be + …ing

*’Note: be’ must be changed to ‘am’, ‘is’ or ‘are’

I am watching TV.He is taking the bus to work.
They are washing the cat.Bryce is speaking to his girlfriend on the phone.

2. What is the passive voice?

The passive voice changes ‘x did something to y’ into ‘y has something done to it (by x)’.

It is made by:

  • object + be + perfect participle (+ by subject)

*Perfect participle (p.p.) = gone, done, seen, eaten etc.

‘Be’ changes depending on the tense you want to use (present, past, future, perfect, etc.).

3. The present continuous tense (passive voice)

The present continuous (passive) uses the structure:

  • object + be (present) + being + perfect participle
BeingP.p.By subjectExample sentence
That birdisbeingfollowedby the catThat bird is being followed by the cat.
This eventisbeingfilmedby Channel 4The kids are excited because this event is being filmed by Channel 4.
Rajiisbeingcourtedby several companiesWe may want to give Raji a pay rise. I have heard he is being courted by several companies.
Blood diamondsarebeingminedDespite international law, blood diamonds are still being mined in several nations.

4. Converting a present continuous tense into its passive

To turn a present continuous tense into its passive voice:

1. swap the subject and object
2. change ‘be …ing’ into ‘be (present) + being + p.p.’

Present continuousPresent continuous (passive)
Xander is cooking the dinner.The dinner is being cooked by Xander.
We are driving the green car.The green car is being driven by them.
They are washing the cat.The cat is being washed by them.
You are paying for the flowers for the wedding.The flowers for the wedding are being paid for by you.
The company is firing everyone.Everyone is being fired.

5. Exercises

1. Change these sentences into the passive voice:
(i) The secretary is taking notes of the meeting.
(ii) The sun is melting the ice.
(iii) I see the problem: the pump is pumping hot air into the system instead of cold.

2. Change these sentences out of the passive voice:
(i) They are being driven to the airport by Dave.
(ii) Quick! The bikes are being stolen!
(iii) I can’t do any work: my computer is being fixed.