Transitive verbs have both active and passive forms:

active   passive
The hunter killed the lion. >> The lion was killed by the hunter.
Someone has cleaned the windows >> The windows have been cleaned

The passive forms are made up of the verb be with a past participle:

  be past participle  
English is spoken all over the world
The windows have been cleaned  
Lunch was being served  
The work will be finished soon
They might have been invited to the party

We sometimes use the verb get to form the passive:

Be careful with the glass. It might get broken.
Peter got hurt in a crash.

If we want to show the person or thing doing the action we use by:

She was attacked by a dangerous dog.
The money was stolen by her husband.

We can use the indirect object as the subject of a passive verb:


active   passive
I gave him a book for his birthday >> He was given a book for his birthday.
Someone sent her a cheque for a thousand euros >> She was sent a cheque for a thousand euros.

We can use phrasal verbs in the passive:


active   passive
They called off the meeting. >> The meeting was called off.
His grandmother looked after him. >> He was looked after by his grandmother.
They will send him away to school. >> He will be sent away to school.

Some verbs very frequently used in the passive are followed by the to-infinitive:


be supposed to be expected to be asked to
be scheduled to be allowed to be told to

John has been asked to make a speech at the meeting.
You are supposed to wear a uniform.
The meeting is scheduled to start at seven. 





If I had to convert this into an indirect speech, then?
He said, " when I was a child, I wasn't afraid of ghosts".
I think it should be : He said that when he had been a child, he was not afraid of ghosts..?
whats wrong here.

Hello Karan gupta,

There is no need to change the verb form here:

He said that when he was a child, he was not afraid of ghosts.

Verbs in simple past or past progressive tend not to shift back in sentences with 'when' and 'if'.

Please note that this page is not related to reported speech. It is helpful if questions can be posted on relevant pages so that other users can find them when they are studying a given topic.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Which one is correct??
You are known by me .
You are known to me.
explain please

Hello Arvind Kumar Singh,

Without knowing the context or what you want to say, it's difficult to say which is correct, though I can say that the second one is probably more common than the first. If you have a context in mind, please explain and we'll do our best to help you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


I have a question about phrases 'dress up' and 'be dressed up'.

What's the difference between the two sentences below?

1) He likes to be dressed up like a prince.
2) He likes to dress up like a prince.

Thank you in advance,

Hello sonicsyy,

Sentence 1 is in the passive voice and sentence 2 is in the active voice - see our active and passive voice page for more on this.

The first sentence implies that other people put the clothes on him, whereas the second one implies that he puts the clothes on by himself.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
Is this active or passive?
It is made in Japan.
I think it is not passive because there is no transitive verb but a part of be and a past participle in the structure.
Best regards
Andrew international

Hello Andrew international,

'Make' is a transitive verb which requires an object when used in active voice: I make [something] - the object is required.

In your example the person doing the making is omitted, but this does not mean that the verb is intransitive. We can always omit the 'by' phrase:

He was killed (by his enemy).

The job was completed (by my colleague).

It was made in Japan (by robots).


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I want to learn literary elements and figurative language.

Hello frozenfever,

That's great, but I'm afraid we don't have any resources for that. This BBC page might be useful for you and I'd also suggest you do an internet search for 'learn literary elements'.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team