Exercise 1: Passive Voice Exercise - Stolen on the Outback Express

Here is the text of the “Stolen on the Outback Express” story. Can you identify which verbs are in the active voice and which verbs are in the passive voice? Are there any ergative verbs (see this section on the passives page)? If so, how are they used?

Can you put the active verbs into the passive voice, and the passive verbs into the active voice? Is it always possible? What different effects are achieved by using active, passive or ergative verbs?

Identify which verbs are active, passive or ergative by selecting the appropriate option from the dropdown boxes in the text below.


One of my easiest cases involved the famous singers Kareena Kapadia and Bobby Dylan. Both women liked jewellery, especially pearls. Although we had never met, we were all travelling on the same train, along with Professor Grahamarian and Harumi Kaga, the famous chef. I was drinking a cup of tea when I was summoned to solve a little mystery.

Bobby was in the lounge carriage being served a drink and put her pearl necklace on the table. She went out to have her nails manicured and closed the door. She was seen leaving by the famous chef Harumi Kaga.

The train's speed increased and the necklace fell off the table.

Another famous singer, Bollywood star Kareena Kapadia, was also travelling on the train. She proceeded to put her own pearl necklace on the table before leaving the lounge. Professor Grahamarian saw her go out.

Bobby came back in. "My necklace has vanished!" cried Bobby.
Kareena entered and looked for her necklace, as she wanted to to get it cleaned. It too had vanished.
"My necklace has been stolen!" cried Kareena.
"What are you doing at my table?" asked Bobby.
"What are you doing at my table?" asked Kareena
"It's my table and I am looking for my necklace. It has been stolen. It was given to me by Prince Wolfgang," said Bobby.
" My necklace has been stolen and my necklace was given to me by Prince Wolfgang!" replied Kareena.
"He gave it to me first!" they exclaimed together.
"What's the matter?" asked Professor Grahamarian.
"My necklace has been stolen said Bobby.
"Someone has taken my necklace," said Kareena.
"Are you sure? Who could have stolen them?" asked Professor Grahamarian.
" I think it was someone employed by the railway," said Bobby accusingly.
"Or maybe you have them both!" said Kareena angrily.
"Dear, dear," said Professor Grahamarian. "I think we should get Ms Parrot to come and help!"

I was sitting in the library carriage having a cup of tea with sugar and lemon as I was suffering from a terrible cold. The hot tea quickly dissolved the sugar and I was enjoying a book which discussed different people's use of the English passive. But Professor Grahamarian interrupted me.

"Ms Parrot. I’m so sorry to disturb you, but your presence is required", he said urgently. I followed him to the lounge carriage.

"What has happened?" I asked.
"Someone has taken my necklace!" cried Bobby.
"My necklace has been stolen!" cried Kareena.
"And Prince Wolfgang gave it to me!" they exclaimed together.
" He has stolen my necklace, I'm sure of it" said Bobby, pointing at the railway employee.
"I have been called many things in this job, but I have never been called a thief!" said the employee indignantly.
"You should be arrested!" replied Bobby in disgust.
I looked around me and then asked, "Have you looked under that napkin?"

"A napkin on the floor?" exclaimed the railway employee. "It's my job to pick it up!"
He did so, and lifted up the two necklaces. Or did he pull them from his sleeve? We shall never know.
"It looks as though nothing has been stolen," I said. "The necklaces must have dropped onto the floor and got covered by that napkin. As this story shows, facts need to be analysed very carefully before anyone assumes the worst."