Teaching the Passive – Texts and Exercises

In my last post I dealt with Passive Structures: rationale, unit structure, lesson plans, etc. The following are texts and exercises to be used when teaching or reviewing the unit.

Reading Passages

1. Mifal Hapayis, the state lottery, was established in 1951 to raise money for public needs. At first, the money was invested in health care and later, in education and welfare. The motto of Mifal Hapayis is: "You win and society wins too." Why do thousands of people buy Lottery tickets week after week? The tickets mean hope. For several shekels people buy a dream, an illusion, a chance for a different life. 

Unfortunately, some people become addicted to this "game". They spend large sums of money and often get into debt. Lottery becomes an obsession, a serious disease. 

And what about the few who win the lottery? Are their dreams fulfilled? Is their life improved? 



Ask students to highlight  the Active structures and underline all the Passive structures. 

What tenses have we used?

Now let's rewrite the paragraph using only Active forms whenever possible.

The government established Mifal Hapayis…                                  


Oral / Writing Activities

How can we fight this addiction? How can we help those who are already addicted?

The last sentence of the text is a question. Discuss possible answers.

2.  Mrs Cohen was taken to the hospital last night. Her baby was born at five o'clock in the morning. The boy was named after his late grandfather. He was given the name Yair. Mrs Cohen was so excited that she wanted to hug the baby and show him to everybody, but she was not allowed to do so.  She was told to lie in bed and rest for a while. Mr Cohen was on the phone for hours. All the family and friends were informed. Two days later the happy family went home. Lots of greeting cards and presents were sent by friends. Lots of people arrived with food, drinks and presents. Everybody was very happy, but the baby didn't seem to enjoy the endless party. He suddenly began to cry. He was probably beginning to understand that life on "the outside" is not as calm and peaceful as it used to be…



Underline all the Passive forms. What tense has been used? Why?

Now let's rewrite the paragraph using only Active forms whenever possible.

Mr Cohen took his wife…                                  


Oral / Writing Activities

Do you have a younger brother / sister? Do you remember the day he was born? Tell the class or write about that day.

3. Some parts of the Negev still look like "no man's land". There is nothing there but rocks and sand. However, in my imagination, I can already visualize how these places will look twenty years from today. Houses and roads will be built, schools and hospitals will be founded and trees will be planted. In short, life will be brought to the desert. People often say that  I am a dreamer with no sense of reality. However, I can still remember sixty years ago people planning what is known  today as Arad and then, nothing but rocks and sand. They looked at the desert and were sure that it could be conquered. They said a city would be built there, pipes would be installed and water would be brought to irrigate the desert.

The dream of sixty years ago is today a fact that many of us take for granted. Arad, now a modern city, proves that the world is changed not only by scientists, but also by dreamers that can see into the future with hope and imagination.



Ask students to underline all the Passive structures. 

What tense have we used?

Now try to add information about who the actions were performed by.


Houses and roads will be built by the government / contractors / people?

Do we need this information?

Why has the Passive been used in this case?

Oral / Writing Activities

Read again the last sentence. Do you agree? Discuss! 

4. Advanced Level

Some people are passive by nature. They seldom make the first step. They always expect others to come up with ideas, suggestions, advice. They prefer things to be done by somebody else. They hope decisions will be taken by others. They believe in fate, in luck and refuse to take responsibility. 

Taking responsibility means not only facing problems and solving them but also trying to prevent them. For example, if you have your teeth checked every six months, if you see your doctor regularly, if you exercise at least three times a week and watch your diet, your health and the quality of your life will be improved.

Your property also needs to be taken care of. The car has to be checked regularly, the bills have to be paid on time. Your home should be protected against fire and robbery. All your possessions should be properly insured. In short, don't wait for miracles. Take responsibility. Choose action!                            



Ask students to highlight  the Active forms of the Verbs and underline the Passive forms.

Let's rewrite the passage in the Active Form.

Let's rewrite the passage in the Passive form.   

Oral and Writing Activities:

Can you describe an active athlete / social activist / philanthropist?

Can you describe a passive person?

Can you act out a dialogue between an active athlete and a passive one?

And that's all for today. 

For further explanations, please see:

  דקדוק אנגלי לדוברי עברית, עמ' 89 – 97

For more exercises, please see:

The New Language Guidebook and Workbook, p 160 – 208

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