Before you look at this lesson, make sure you are comfortable with making the present continuous, the past continuous and the future continuous forms. You should also read about simple passives first. After you have read the continuous passives lesson, you can practise using them with these continuous passives exercises.

Using continuous passives

Active continuous verbs

All continuous forms are made with be + verb-ing. For example:

Workers are building a new hospital (... right now).

Workers were building a new hospital (... when the earthquake happened)

Workers will be building a new hospital (... in two years).

Passive continuous verbs

We make passives with be (in the correct tense) + the past participle (the third form of the verb, e.g. break - broke- broken). So you need to change be to the present continuous (is being), past continuous (was being) or future continuous (will be being).

Present continuous passive:

A new hospital is being built.

Past continuous passive:

A new hospital was being built.

Future continuous passive:

A new hospital will be being built.

You will almost never need to know the last example (future continuous passive) - it's extremely rare (possibly because it's so long).


When to use passives

Remember, we use passive forms when we don't know or don't care who did something, when it is obvious who did something, or when we want to focus on the object of the active sentence. For example, to answer the question "Can I borrow your car?", you could say

Sorry, a mechanic is repairing my car at the moment. (active)


Sorry, my car's being repaired at the moment. (passive)

In the two sentences above, the second one is better, because the topic of conversation is your car. It isn't really important who fixes the car (everyone knows it's probably a mechanic).

Now test yourself with these continuous passives exercises.