Using the Passive Voice for Giving Opinion in Writing Task 2

Many students ask me if it’s ok to use the passive voice to give your own opinion in an IELTS essay.

For example:

Is it possible to use “it is believed …” or “it is thought …” instead of “in my opinion” or “I believe”

This lesson will

  • explain when to use passive voice
  • explain about using passive voice for opinions
  • explain what the examiner is looking for in IELTS writing task 2 opinion essay
  • provide Free Video Lessons:
    • Expressing your Opinion for IELTS Writing Task 2
    • Language for Discussion Essays
  • give useful links for IELTS

Examples of passive and active voice:

  • The road was built a long time ago = passive
  • The Romans built the road a long time ago = active

Which should we use and when?

When to Use Passive Voice

We use passive voice in the following situations and ways:

  • when the performer (the person doing the action) is unknown or irrelevant
    • More wind power is used than solar power.” In this sentence, the people using the power is irrelevant to the information so passive voice is used.
    • The information was hacked from the computer.” In this sentence, the person doing the hacking is possibly not known or the person is not important to the person speaking so passive voice was used.
  • when it refers to a group of unspecified people
    • It is thought that the government should improve the infrastructure of all major cities.” In this sentence, we do not know who the people are that think this. We only know that it refers to “some people” but not a specified group.
  • when the person doing the action is less important than the action itself
    • The decision was made by the committee.” In this sentence, “the decision” is more important than “the committee” so the decision becomes the subject and passive voice is used. The person or persons doing the action is add after using “by ….”
  • depending on what is most important to the person or persons speaking
    • Trees produce more oxygen.” is an active sentence and “trees” is the subject. “More oxygen is produced by trees.” is passive voice. This is used because “oxygen” is more important to the speaker than “trees”.

Passive Voice for Giving Opinions

From the above information, we can see that the passive voice “it is thought” does not refer to you. It refers to other people who are not specified, for example “it is thought by some people that ….” This is NOT your opinion.

You use the passive voice in IELTS writing task 2 to write about other people’s opinions. For example, “It is believed by some that children should focus on sciences at school, while it is believed by others that children should spend time focusing on the arts.” Two opposite views belonging to other people – not you.

This means we will use it in a Discussion Essay or in your background statement when you introduce other people’s views before you give your own.

IELTS Writing Task 2: Your Opinion

When the IELTS writing task 2 instructions ask for your opinion, you must state your opinion clearly. This means it will be an active sentence. You will need to state:

I think / I believe / In my opinion

If you use “it is believed”, this is not your opinion. It belongs to other people. The examiner give you a lower score because you didn’t give your opinion. You can’t use “it is believed” to express your own views. It is grammatically incorrect in English and it is a big mistake in IELTS writing task 2.

How to Give your Opinion: Free Video Lesson

Watch this video lessons to help tips about expressing your opinion in IELTS writing task 2.

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Discussion Essay Language: Free Video Lesson

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More IELTS Tips

Click the following link to see model essays for IELTS writing task 2 and more tips: IELTS Writing Task 2 Main Page

See a Model Opinion Essay (Agree/ Disagree)

See a Model Discussion Essay

For tips and practice in other parts of the IELTS test, follow the links below:

Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, lessons, free videos and more.





  1. A big thank you to you ma’am for all your tutorials and guidance. I achieved 8,8,7.5 and 7 in my GT listening, reading, speaking and writing test. You style is simple and easy to understand 👌

  2. Abhishek Goswami says

    Hi Liz,
    Please help me solve my confusion.
    “Development of big shopping malls has or have ”

    My understanding is “Verb form of ‘Be’ will be according to Development and not ‘malls’.
    Is my understanding correct?

    • “The development of shopping malls” is a noun phrase. This means the noun is not “shopping malls”, the noun is the whole thing (all five words). It would be considered as third person singular – has / it has.

      • Abhishek Goswami says

        What if I change the sentence to “Some of the shopping malls have/has observed a tremendous growth over the last few years”

        In this case, the noun phrase is in plural form or singular?

  3. Dear Liz
    Your page is very important and useful for everyone

  4. Dear Liz
    Thanks so for your page this is more useful for everyone

  5. Dear Liz
    Thanks so for for your page this is more useful for everyone

  6. SARIT SHARMA says

    should we avoid using passive sentences?

  7. SARIT SHARMA says

    should we avoid using passive sentences in WT-2 ?

    • You can use passive voice in any writing when it is suitable to use it. Like all tenses, it depends on what you are trying to say.

  8. Hello Liz
    Is this statement active or passive , I used it to conclude my essay whilst giving my opinion
    ” majority of individuals tends to move with the wind of times”.

    • Don’t learn sentences to use in your test. IELTS is about testing your own ability to create sentences using your own words – not memorising phrases written by other people.

  9. Dear Liz,
    Thank you for your help through all forms of media. I have a few questions :
    1. Do we need to leave a line or is a paragraph indentation alright?
    2. Are we allowed to use Idioms and phrases or does it sound to rehearsed?
    3. Are we allowed to write brand names, individual names or company names?
    4. whats the difference between IDP and BC ? is there a different method of correction or assessment?

  10. Hey Liz, Thank you so much for your support and guidance. I have seen that some people use “As far as I am concerned” to express their opinion. Is it ok to use it in writing task 2?

  11. saroj neupane says

    These days, development of cities and similarly the requirements of the people in different areas such as work,education and shopping are in rapid succession. People usually travel through several means to fulfill these requirements and this leads to a problem of traffic.So, i fully agree that reduction of the need of the people helps to decrease the amount of traffic.
    Firstly, the population increase day by day in massive manner. Similarly, the desired of the people gets higher in several field. growing population wants to get good job, well education and to buy luxurious goods. In order to fulfill these wants,individuals are ready to go wherever it is available through various means of transport. As well as, the wholesale and supermarket import those goods from faraway with the help of truck. these leads to massive rise of heavy automobiles in highway which also can cause various accidents. the reduction in population has a positive impact in cities traffic.
    Secondly, enhancement in technology is also one of the factor. Several advanced technology are escalate, furthermore it creates convenience mode of transport in digressing nature.These technological ideas are applied by different companies to manufacture variety of size,shape & color of automobiles in order to mitigate the desired demand of customer. All the way,demands goes on increasing similarly the congestion of traffic increases in highway and it adversely effect in economic of people as well as losses of human lives.
    To sum up,the reduction in population growth and advanced technology not only reduce the traffic burden but it also conserve our environment.

  12. Thank you

  13. hi liz,

    Is it that using ideoms in essay can lower the scores?

  14. Hi! Is using the balanced approach in stating opinion can achieve higher marks than one-sided approach? because I understand using balance approach requires much more practice and knowledge.

    • There is no difference in your score if you use the one-sided or balanced approach. The examiner is looking for a clear position with well develop ideas. Your actual position is not relevant to your score. Agree/ Disagree / Partially agree = all the same.

  15. Dear Liz, many thanks for your post. How about using ‘I assume’?

  16. Thank you, Liz. Very clear, as always.
    I’d like to know if you would recommend using passive voice in writings task 1 (academic IELTS), for example: “It is clearly seen/shown in the chart that…”
    Would it help the band score to include one sentence like that?

    • “it is clearly seen in the chart that..” is one of the most overused phrases in writing task 1 and not really recommended to boost your score. You will use passive voice in diagrams/processes but in the other types, you will most likely not use it. You only use passive voice when needed – you don’t try to put it in inappropriately.

  17. Hello, firstly many thanks for your useful tips you have always posted on your blog. Hum, I have small question her. Can I use passive to paraphrase the question? For example. A new research indicates that addition to television and digital devices has a negative impact on kids.
    -It is found by a recent study that addiction to television and digital devices badly affect the health of children.

  18. Ezzadin Ibrahim says

    I believe that the English language it is thought that the native English speaker is more releavent , and they have more ability and confidante in giving thier opinion and views

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