The passive voice, though much less common than the active voice, can be very helpful in Russian, particularly in written and formal speech. What’s more, you’ll find many common words you learn early on in your Russian studies are in fact past passive participles in everyday use.
Whereas the active voice involves a subject performing an action on an object, the passive voice involves the object of that action becoming the grammatical subject. Here are the three forms of the passive voice in Russian.
With imperfective verbs, you can form the passive voice by turning them into reflexive verbs with the suffix, -ся. You’ll generally find imperfective verbs in the passive voice are in the 3rd person – он/она/оно or они. There will commonly be an agent of action in the instrumental case in such sentences, but it is also possible for there to be an absent subject. For example:
Now, it is possible, but rare, for passive perfective verbs to be expressed in the reflexive. This can only work for certain expressions involving covering, filling, illuminating.
The present passive particle replaces the active “который” (which, that) and can also have the English meaning of adjectives that end in -able. For example:
To form the present passive participle, add the usual -ый, -ая, -ое endings to the 1st person plural (мы) stem of the present tense verb. For example:
Past passive participles are derived almost always from perfective verbs. They are used all the time in Russian and are often viewed as adjectives. Just like adjectives, they have both a long and a short form. The past passive participle replaces the active "который" (which, that) and can also have the English meaning of adjectives that end in -ed. For example:
Past passive participles are derived almost always from perfective verbs. They are formed from the past tense.
Drop the -л and add the ending -нный (-нная, -нное,-нные):
Drop the -ил and add the ending -енный (-енная, -енное, -енные):
Add the ending -ённый (-енный) to the past tense:
Drop the -л and adding ending -тый (-тая, -тое, -тые):