Lesson #32 | Past Passive

Listen to part of a talk on the Great Wall of China.

Narrator: The Great Wall is actually a series of walls that were built over a period of many centuries and through many Chinese dynasties. It is generally thought that the wall was started around 200 BC and that construction was finished in the sixteenth century. Initially it was constructed from tamped earth, later construction was with stone. Over the years due to many military campaigns, parts of the wall were destroyed. They were later rebuilt and strengthened. Taxes were also collected from traders passing through the gates. As the Chinese empire expanded to the north, the wall became less important and less maintenance work was performed on it.

Grammar Notes

Point 1: The simple past passive is often used to state historical facts or facts true in the past.
  1. Paper was invented in Egypt.
  2. Napoleon was finally defeated.
Point 2: We use the passive when it is not important who performs the action.
  1. Gunpowder was invented in China.
  2. It was completed in 1980.
Point 3: Note the form of the passive simple past.
  1. It was opened in 1967.
  2. It was not opened in 1967.
Point 4: The passive can be followed with 'by' if it is necessary to mention who.
  1. The telephone was invented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell.
  2. Rice was grown extensively in the eleventh century by the Chinese.
Answer these questions about the interview.

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Vocabulary Challenge

Grammar Practice
Complete the gaps with the words listed below. Change the form as needed.
keep • invent • use
build • open
  1. The Taj Majal as a present for a man's wife.
  2. The TV by Logie Baird..
  3. The stars by sailors in ancient times for navigation.
  4. The Presidential Palace to the public last year.
  5. Wolves as pets in early times, eventually becoming dogs.