Clase digital 5. Vida en otros planetas

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Vida en otros planetas


Welcome to this new class!!!

Next, we will work on the following topics:

  • Passive voice.
  • Complex Conjunctions.
  • Vocabulary about Life in the Universe.

Let’s start with the first topic: Do you know how to use the passive voice?
To test yourself go to the following page and answer the exercises: Active and Passive in English – Complex Test – Intermediate

  • How did you do?
  • Were you able to answer all of them correctly?

We can then start by marking that an active sentence like I drank two cups of coffee has the subject first (the person or thing that does the verb), followed by the verb, and finally the object (the person or thing that the action happens to). So, in this example, the subject is ‘I’, the verb is ‘drank’ and the object is ‘two cups of coffee’.

But we don’t always need to make sentences this way. We might want to put the object first, or perhaps we don’t want to say who did something. This can happen for lots of reasons. In this case, we can use a passive, which puts the object first:

Two cups of coffee were drunk (we can add ‘by me’ if we want, but it isn’t necessary).

In this class we will review the use of active and passive voice. Let’s get into it… 

Desarrollo del tema

For a general review of both active and passive voice let’s look at the following video:

Active sentences vs passive sentences

When A does B, we have two possible ways of talking about it: active or passive. In active sentences A is the subject (before the verb). In passive sentences B is the subject. Check the following examples:

  • Somebody cleaned the classroom yesterday. (Active)
  • The classroom was cleaned every day. (Passive)

As you can see, the object of an active sentence is the subject of a passive sentence. 

We make the passive by putting the verb “be” into whatever tense we need and then adding the past participle. For regular verbs, we make the past participle by adding ‘ed’ to the infinitive, that is the reason why “play” becomes “played”. But since we can change every tense into passive voice using the verb be let´s review the following:
present simpleI make a cake.A cake is made (by me).
present continuousI am making a cake.A cake is being made (by me).
past simpleI made a cake.A cake was made (by me).
past continuousI was making a cake.A cake was being made (by me).
present perfectI have made a cake.A cake has been made (by me).
pres. perf. continuousI have been making a cake.A cake has been being made (by me).
past perfectI had made a cake.A cake had been made (by me).
future simpleI will make a cake.A cake will be made (by me).
future perfectI will have made a cake.A cake will have been made (by me).

When should we use the Passive voice?

The passive voice is very common in the news and in formal writing.

  • Arsenal have been defeated 3-0 and they are now 4th in the table.
  • The British embassy in Israel has been destroyed by an earthquake. 
  • The Catalan election will be held next September.
Passive voice + by

We can use by to say who or what is responsible for the action.

  • The painting was bought by a very rich American.
  • Penicillin was invented by Alexander Fleming.

For another explanation on passive voice check the following video:

Can you change the sentence: I was arrested by the police to a passive voice?.

Let’s check the following video for more sentences to analyze:

Hopefully you have mastered the passive and active voice. Let’s practice a little. Try to decide whether the following sentences are in passive or active voice:

Hopefully you have mastered the passive and active voice. Let’s practice a little. Try to decide whether the following sentences are in passive or active voice:

  • Guernica was painted by Picasso. ________
  • The doctor talked to him. ________
  • The fire was put out. ________
  • My parents gave me a present. ________ 
  • English is spoken here. ________
  • The dog has been taken to the vet. ________
  • Somebody has stolen my bag. ________
  • The car has been repaired. ________
  • Some people were laughing. ________
  • Olive oil is made from olives. ________
  • The work will be finished by two. ________
  • A comet was seen for a long time. ________

For more examples on passive voice: 

Do you remember conjunctions?

Conjunctions are words that join words and sentences together. In this lesson, Mr. P. will talk about subordinating conjunctions. They are those that are attached to dependent clauses, so they cannot stand alone to give a complete thought or meaning to the sentence. 

Now is the turn of the next topic and we will continue with expressions known as Complex Conjunctions: as long as, as soon as, in order that, despite the fact that, due to the fact that, as if, as though (to introduce a subordinate clause). 

Let’s review some of those in the following videos

Now it is turn to review vocabulary on Life in the Universe: space, outer space, celestial, universe, planet, asteroid, comet, galaxy, star, meteor, meteor shower, black hole, worm hole, moon, constellation, celestial bodies, Milky Way, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, alien, UFO, extraterrestrial, satellite, radiation, cosmic, cosmic dust, ozone layer, spaceship, spacecraft, international space station, Big Bang Theory, gravity, gravitational, Infinite limitless, life beyond our planet-NASA.

These are the planets that orbit the sun: 

Earth Jupiter Mars Mercury Neptune (Pluto) Saturn Uranus Venus

Can you put the planets in order? Here’s a clue: My Very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas (mnemonic for the planet´s order) 

The eight planets that orbit the sun are (in order from the sun): Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. Another large body is Pluto, now classified as a dwarf planet or plutoid.

For plenty of vocabulary on the universe, we can review the following videos:

Reading practice:

How many planets are there in our galaxy? That’s a tricky question to answer. Are there other planets that support life? That’s exactly what the Kelper mission hopes to discover. NASA launched the Kelper space telescope, designed to find habitable planets, in 2009. So far it has discovered five new Earth-sized planets beyond our solar system. These planets are hotter than the Earth – much too hot for life as we know it. The Kelper team predict that they will need at least three years (and possibly longer) to find an Earth-like planet. The simplest requirement for a planet to have life (carbon-based life like on Earth) is for there to be liquid water (not frozen or gas) so the distance from the planet’s sun and therefore temperature is important. There also needs to be the correct amount of air. If a planet is as small as Mars (half the size of Earth) its weak gravity means that it can’t hold on to air molecules. If a planet is Neptune sized (four times bigger than Earth) it has very strong gravity and too much air. So, size matters too. The cost of the mission is approximately six hundred million dollars. It is scheduled to observe until 2013 but this could be extended. Will we be sad if we discover we are alone in our galaxy or happy if we find that we share it with other life forms?

Writing practice:

Read and match 1-6 with a-f to make sentences about the text.

1. The Kelper space telescope a) are not in our solar system.
2. Kelper has found five planets that b) will not have enough air.
3. A planet can support life if it c) will have too much air.
4. A very small planet d) is looking for life on other planets.
5. An extremely big planet e) about $600 million.
6. The Kelper mission will costf) has water and air.

Can you make sentences using the above exercises and then change them into passive voice?
Give it a try.

Imagen 1. Vida en otros planetas.

Do you think there is life in other planets?

Let´s do a listening practice with the following videos for more on that topic:

Were you able to identify the main ideas?  Try to explain them to your class.


Remember that in most English sentences with an action verb, the subject performs the action denoted by the verb and because the subject does or «acts upon» the verb, we said we are using the “active voice”.

One can change the normal word order of many active sentences (those with a direct object) so that the subject is no longer active, but is, instead, being acted upon by the verb – or passive. Because the subject is being «acted upon» (or is passive), such sentences are said to be in the “passive voice”.

In summary, the active voice asserts that the person or thing represented by the grammatical subject performs the action represented by the verb. The passive voice makes the subject the person or thing acted on or affected by the action represented by the verb.

In this class, we have practiced and now you should know that we make the passive by putting the verb ‘to be’ into whatever tense we need and then adding the past participle. For regular verbs, we make the past participle by adding ‘ed’ to the infinitive.

Also important is that the passive voice is used to emphasize the action (the verb) and the object of a sentence rather than subject. 

Hopefully all this can be useful in your academic assignments, since most of them will require the use of the passive voice for a more formal tone.

As always, don´t forget your assignments for this class and see you next time. 

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