IELTS Task 1 Diagrams: The Passive for Processes

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,030 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
edited March 2016 in Grammar

In IELTS Task 1 you may be asked to describe a process.

The Passive voice is more suitable when writing about Task 1 processes and is written without using personal pronouns (I, we, you). When we use the passive, our writing feels more objective and fact-based.  In other words, your writing appears to convey information that is not limited or biased by individual perspectives or personal interests.

Now, if a process is man-made, we tend to use the passive.  Consider the process of producing cocoa powder:

The first stage in the process is natural so we tend to use the active voice (i.e., the subject of the sentence performs the action expressed in the verb) as in this sentence:

The pods (the subject) grow (active verb) for 8-40 years and each pod (subject) contains (active verb) 20-50 beans.  

In the next part of the diagram, we see that there is the influence of man: harvesting and the opening of the fruit.  In this case, we tend to use the passive voice, as in this sentence:

The pods are harvested and then opened (by a human).


Mostly, the passive voice will include a form of the verb be (i.e., was, am, are, been, is). Sometimes, however, a prepositional phrase like "by a/the" - as in by a human - indicates that the action is performed on the subject, and that the sentence is passive.

Try writing some active sentences for the natural processes and some passive sentences for the 'man-made' processes below.

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