In English there are two “voices”: the active voice and the passive voice. The active voice sentence is the typical English sentence:
SUBJECT + VERB + OBJECT.
The structure of a sentence in the simple passive voice is different:
OBJECT + be/get + PAST PARTICIPLE (+ AGENT).
Look at the differences between the active and passive voice sentences below:
|The cat||caught||a mouse.|
|The police||chased||the suspect.|
|A tornado||devastated||the town.|
|The mouse||WAS caught||(by the cat).|
|The suspect||GOT chased||(by the police).|
|The town||WAS devastated||(by the tornado).|
The active voice is used in most conversational situations. The passive voice is used in explanations, such as this one, where the object (“the passive voice”) is more important than the people who use it. The passive voice is also used a lot in reporting where the agent is unknown, unimportant or purposely kept secret. For example, the following sentences have no agent:
“Bananas are grown in Ecuador.” (The object, “bananas,” is more important than who grows the bananas. We
probably don't know who grows the bananas anyway.)
“The diamond was stolen at 4:30a.m.” (We don't know who stole the diamond, so no agent can be included. Even if we did
know, the sentence might still be more common in the passive because the fact that a
diamond was stolen may be more important than who did it.)
As stated above, “get” is sometimes used in conjunction with the past participle when forming the simple passive voice. Using “get” is a more casual way of making the passive voice. “Get” tends to emphasize the feelings of the speaker as well as process, whereas “be” emphasizes neutrality and state of being. “Get” doesn't take an agent as often as “be” does.