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Answer to Master the Passive Voice with “被(bèi)”

Mar. 26, 2015

Correct Answer: B

For Chinese learners, there are two kinds of sentences that are especially difficult to master. One is the “把()” sentence, and the other one is the “被(bèi)” structure. Since you’ve already had a look at the “把()” structure, we can now tackle the “被(bèi)” structure.

“被(bèi)” is used to show that somebody or something is on the receiving end of an action. It is also called 被字句 (bèizìjù) in Chinese, which is a key way to express the passive voice, formed using a passive verb and the preposition “被(bèi).” So any intransitive verb, one that cannot be followed by an object, like “run,” “think,” and “hope” cannot be used in a “被(bèi)” structure.

In the “被(bèi)” structure the object of an action becomes the subject of the sentence, and what would have been the subject of the normal (active voice) sentence, the “doer” of the action, becomes secondary, and may or may not be included in the passive sentence. This can been seen in the two sentence structures below:

Structure 1: The “doer” of the action becomes secondary.

Subject + 被(bèi) + Doer (Object) + Verb Phrase

This structure emphasizes both the doer and the result.

Examples

Jim hē le nà píng píjiǔ.       Nà píng píjiǔ bèi Jim hē le.
Jim 喝 了 那  瓶  啤酒。 = 那    瓶  啤酒 被 Jim 喝 了。
Jim drank that glass of beer. That glass of beer was drunk by Jim.

Zhào Wěi jiăndào le Lucy de yàoshi.       Lucy de yàoshi bèi Zhào Wěi jiăndào le.
赵      伟     捡到   了Lucy 的   钥匙。 = Lucy 的   钥匙   被    赵    伟    捡到  了。
Zhao Wei picked up Lucy’s key. Lucy’s key was picked up by Zhao Wei.

Wŏ dăsuì le bēizi.       Bēizi bèi wŏ dă suì le.
我    打碎 了杯子。 = 杯子 被  我 打  碎 了。
I broke the glass. The glass was broken by me.

Structure 2: The “doer” of the action is not included in the passive sentence.

Subject + 被(bèi) + Verb Phrase

This structure emphasizes the result, not the doer.

Examples

Gōngsī kāchú le Liú Míng.   Liú Míng bèi kāichú le.
公司      开除  了 刘  明。 = 刘   明    被   开除  了。
Our company expelled Liu Ming. Li Ming was expelled.

Qīngjiégōng dăsăo le gōngyuán. Gōngyuán bèi dăsăo le.
清洁工           打扫  了   公园。 =    公园      被   打扫  了。
The sanitation worker cleaned the park. The park was cleaned.

Xiăotōu tōu zŏu le Wáng Lì de shŏujī.    Wáng Lì de shŏujī bèi tōu zŏu le.
小偷      偷   走   了   王   丽 的 手机。 = 王    丽 的  手机   被  偷  走  了。
A thief stole Wang Li’s phone. Wang Li’s phone was stolen.

While “被(bèi)” is used to express the passive voice, “把()” is used to show the active meaning. The neat thing is that both of them are interchangeable as long as you use the right sentence structure!

Subject + 把() + Object + Verb Phrase = Subject + 被(bèi) + Object + Verb Phrase

Examples

Wŏ bă niúnăi hē wán le.      Niúnăi bèi wŏ hē wán le.
我   把  牛奶  喝  完   了。 = 牛奶   被 我  喝  完  了。
Husband: OK. I will get our son picked up first and then cook the dinner.

Zhāng Tíng bă yīfu  xǐ gānjìng le.        Yīfu bèi Zhāng Tíng xǐ gānjìng le.
张        婷   把 衣服 洗 干净   了。 = 衣服 被     张      婷  洗  干净   了。
Zhang Ting cleaned the clothes. The clothes were cleaned by Zhang Ting.

In our test, Judy thought the milk must have been drunk by Jack. We should use a “被(bèi)” structure to express the passive voice, so the answer is B.

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