Conjugation & verb forms: past simple (passive)

(Formation of the simple past tense in passive voice)

Table of contents – conjugation past simple (passive)

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Formation past simple passive
  2. Verb forms past simple passive
  3. Further explanations and exercises

Formation of the past simple in passive voice

The passive forms of the simple past are derived from the past tense of the auxiliary verb ‘to be’ (i.e., ‘was’ or ‘were’) and the corresponding verb in the past participle. For the sake of convenience, the past participle is frequently called the 3rd form. This form ends in ‘-ed’ for regular verbs; the irregular ones are listed in the third column of the table of irregular verbs. Note that the passive always requires a form of ‘to be’ and never ‘did’! The auxiliary verb ‘did’, on the other hand, is only used in the active forms of the Past Simple.

In negations and negative sentences, ‘was’ and ‘were’ are solely negated with ‘not’ and become ‘was not’ (short form: wasn’t) or ‘were not’ (short form: weren’t). Compare the following example sentences and the table below:

  • Examples of passives of the past simple in sentences:
    • “Jason was asked if he wanted to play in the national team.”
      • Here, it is used with a regular verb and the ending ‘-ed’.
    • “The two old houses at the end of the street were built in 1956.”
      • This occurrence shows an irregular verb in the plural.

Passive verb forms of the past simple

Example verb: ‘to be seen

Positive/affirmative sentences

Person/​pronoun Positive Short form Interrogative form Short form of question
I/​he/​she/​it He was seen. Was he seen?
we/​you/​they We were seen. Were we seen?

Negative sentences

Person/​pronoun Negative Short form Interrogative form Short form of question
I/​he/​she/​it She was not seen. She wasn’t seen. Was she not seen? Wasn’t she seen?
we/​you/​they You were not seen. You weren’t seen. Were you not seen? Weren’t you seen?

Further explanations related to the topic ‘Formation of the past simple in passive voice’

The following explanations relate to the ‘Formation of the simple past tense (passive)’ and can also be helpful: