Using Perfect Simple And Passive Voice In Spoken English

By Robby

If you are new here please read this first.

Hello everyone who watches my video blog – thanks for tuning in and finding time for watching my next video! I can assure you – your time won’t be wasted because today I’m going to highlight important aspects on using different English grammar tenses in live English conversations.

First of all I want to give you an example. Here’s a simple phrase you’d use when you’d have finished doing something – I’ve done it. This is Present Perfect Simple – a grammar form to describe an action that has been finished at some time in the past but the actual time of its completion isn’t known.

Well, so far it’s all fairly simple and understandable, and you shouldn’t have any difficulties with using a simple phrase like I’ve done it.

But now let’s take it one step further and look at the same phrase only in Passive Voice this time. Just a quick reminder for those not sure what Passive Voice is – it’s a way of describing an event without mentioning who did it.

So for instance, I’ve done it is Active Voice, but It has been done is Passive Voice. You see, it isn’t known who did it, or it’s so obvious that there’s no need to mention it.

Let’s say, your supervisor at work knows that you’ve been onto something, and now you’re reporting to him. You can simply say – It has been done because he already knows that it’s you who’s doing it.

So the phrase we’re looking at now is – It has been done, or its short form – It’s been done. It’s the same Present Perfect Simple, only it Passive Voice. But now tell me honestly two things.

How many times you’ve got tongue-tied when speaking English because you’ve been trying to get the tenses perfectly correctly? And – how often you’ve heard a phrase It has been done replaced by much simpler – It’s done?

Do you start getting my point now?

Let’s have a look at a few more examples.

Let’s say you’re going to your shift manager to brief him on your current progress. You want to tell him that you will have finished compiling the sales analysis data by 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

The formal way of saying it is the following – I will have finished the sales analysis by 4 o’clock. A normal English sentence, nothing wrong with it.

It may present difficulties, though, to some foreign English speakers – especially those, who are struggling while speaking and are experiencing anxiety. It’s not that easy to get the tenses right when speaking and constructing a Future Perfect Simple phrase – I will have finished – can get that person tongue-tied and struggling.

Personally I think it’s easier to say the same thing the colloquial way – I’ll be finished with the sales analysis by 4 o’clock.

So look at the phrase – I’ll be finished. Formally we could probably translate it as – I’ll be killed – because it’s the Passive Voice and when you say that I am finished it should mean exactly that – that YOU are finished. However, spoken English is a different story and you don’t have to go by the letter and stick to formal English.

You can certainly say – I’m finished instead of I have finished, I’m done instead of I’ve done it and I was done instead of I had done it.

Make no mistake though – I’m not saying you should mess up all English grammar that you’ve acquired so far and start using Passive Voice instead of Active Voice.

All I’m saying is that when you’re chatting with people in informal situations you’re much better off resembling colloquial English speech patterns than risking getting stuck when speaking.

Especially if you’re not perfectly familiar with all the tenses and you have to spend some time on putting the things right in your mind before speaking out loud.

And of course – there’s no need to change your way of speaking if saying things like The order has been shipped out now present no difficulties to you.

If you, on the other hand, aren’t really comfortable with things like has been, would have been, would have had – and similar tongue twisters, why make it complicated for yourself?

All native English speakers use simplified, more colloquial versions of those grammar forms, and it’s totally normal to say things like – My shift is over, I’m finished today! instead of I have finished – and – This job is done now, what’s next? instead of – This job has been done, what’s next?

I recall a time when I was struggling with English tenses years ago and I wanted to get them perfectly right. So I memorized the whole English tense table with the corresponding examples showing when a particular tense is used and so on.

But I still struggled to apply that knowledge in daily conversations, and had I know about more colloquial ways of saying things, I would have made my life much easier when getting around warehouse where I used to work.

So the bottom line is the following – DO learn English tenses, learn how and where they’re used. But when speaking everyday English, don’t be afraid of using simplified language even if it may sound grammatically incorrect at first.

OK, thanks for staying with me and talk to you soon again!


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P.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out the English Harmony System HERE!

English Harmony System