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Hi, is there any nice concise rule I can apply to texts to see if it's passive or active voice? I used to just assume that anything with 'was', was in the passive - sums me up really.

i) It was lying in the field.
ii) There was blood on the ground.
iii) He always carried it with him.
iv) I had better run.
v) I should have been better employed elsewhere.

I would have said that ii) and iii) were passive, but now I have no idea. I would appreciate any help, thanks!
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For something to be passive, it requires that someone do (or did) something to someone/something else. That someone/something else that received the action becomes the subject of the sentence, and the person who did it may or may not be mentioned.

Let's take iii: He always carried it with him.
He is the "doer."
What he does is "carry."
What he does it to is "It."

When you have Doer - action - recipient you have an active sentence.
He carries it.
I painted the room.
That girl threw the rock

When you have Recipient - was acted on - [by doer - this part is optional] you have a passive sentence.
It was carried by him
The room was painted [don't have to say "by me"].
The rock was thrown by that girl.

Only verbs that take an object ("transitive" verbs) can be put in the passive.
Look at i - is anyone doing anything to something else? What about ii?

There is only one sentence in there with a passive aspect to it. Can you find it?
Is it - I should have been better employed elsewhere.

Since it says "I should have been employed by somewhere else", does making me the subject of somewhere else's action?
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You got it!

They employed me. I was employed by them.
Someone else should have employed me. I should have been employed by someone else.
Thank you for your help! I think I understand now. May take a while before I'm quite as adept at spotting them as you, but practice makes perfect! I assume it's therefore safer to assume an active voice until you can prove otherwise? Since the passive is seemingly less frequently used?
Yes, I'd agree that active is used more often. Keep posting your questions.
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Anonymous is there any nice concise rule I can apply to texts to see if it's passive or active voice?
Look for a form of be together with a past participle. That indicates passive.

It was lying ... -- Not passive. was is a form of be, but lying is not a past participle.
... was blood ... -- Not passive. was is a form of be, but blood is not even a verb; it's a noun.
... carried it ... -- Not passive. There is no form of be here.
... had better run. -- Not passive. There is no form of be here.
... have been better employed elsewhere. -- Yes. Passive. been is a form of be, and employed is a past participle (the p.p. of employ).

CJ