I'm doing a school exercise where I have to give an explanation of the underlined (or in this case bold) verb usage in given sentences, following this format:

I was waiting.

past continuous (or progressive) = subject + was / were + verb + ‘-ing’ (or present participle)

The last sentence I am to anaylse is giving me trouble:

Toyota cars are made in Japan.

I've indentified the tense as present simple, and cars is clearly the subject, and "are" at least one of the verbs. But what is the rule for past participles in simple present tense? I've done fairly extensive searches online and found grammar websites that give examples of the same format as present simple tense, but none that give any explanation or rule for how the past participle is used in this case.

My best guess for the desired analysis is:

cars are made

Simple present = subject + is / are + past participle

But this is only an inference, and I don't know if it accurately reflects any actual grammatical rule.

Any help will be appreciated. (And don't worry, I'm allowed to use the internet, several links are even included with the exercise, so you're not helping me cheat)

  • This is a present passive construction. The sentence "They make Toyota cars in Japan", with an active verb, is rewritten so what was the direct object becomes the subject of the sentence with a passive verb. Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 14:35
  • Are you aware of the difference between active and passive voice?
    – tylerharms
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 14:35
  • 1
    This question, although closed, has very good brief answers and a link to Wikipedia. ... And by the way, welcome to ELU. Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 14:40

1 Answer 1


As StoneyB has already said, "cars are made" is a passive construction.

In passive voice we always use an auxiliary verb + past participle combination. So, your analysis of Simple Present tense is correct.

Here are a few others.

Present Continuous: Cars are being made [am/is/are + being + past participle]

Present Perfect: Cars have been made [have/has + been + past participle]

Present Perfect Continuous: Cars have been being made [have/has + been + being + past participle] (Passive in Perfect Continuous is rarely used)

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