We use the continuous passive the same way as regular continuous forms but when the agent, that is the person or organisation that is doing the action of the verb, is not known or is not as important as the action itself.
be + being (present participle of to be) + past participle
It has present, past and future uses but is not used in a perfect structure.
- I am being chased.
- He was being watched.
- They were being followed.
- The company is being investigated by the tax office.
- The property will be being decorated that week.
- I’m not being chased.
- He wasn’t being watched.
- They weren’t being followed.
- The company isn’t being investigated by the tax office.
- Am I being chased?
- Was he being watched?
- Were they being followed?
- Is the company being investigated?
Passive = less direct
Using the passive can sound more polite because it is less direct. It means you don’t have to say you. This is less personal and sounds less like an order, accusation or criticism.
Have you done it? => Has it been done?
You moved it! => It’s been moved
It is also used when you want to avoid mentioning another person’s name.
Peter told me to rearrange the meeting => I was told to rearrange the meeting
It’s also useful when you don’t want to emphasise your own responsibility for something.
I dropped your phone => Your phone was dropped