active and passive voice


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  
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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. 




Dear Sir,

Greetings to all. First of all thank you so much for your kind assistance. I have a query regarding Pseudo Passive. Can we say that Pseudo Passive can be categorized in Causative and Non-causative form? Thanks a lot again.


Hello iamsam1987,

The 'pseudo-passive' can refer to a number of different things. Please post a concrete example so we can be sure what you are referring to and we'll be happy to answer.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,
I came across an active sentence which was as follows "Roses smell sweet" and its passive voice was "Roses smell sweet when (they are) smelt''.

I would like to know whether or not it is a correct transformation. I have some doubts about the active sentence itself. It has the Subject (Roses) but it does not have an obvious object and the basic requirements to change from active to passive are 1) Subject 2) Object 3) Transitive Verb

Does 'smell' function as a transitive verb here ?

Thank you so much in advance.

Hello iamsam1987,

In the sentence 'Roses smell sweet' the verb is intransitive and so there is no passive form of the sentence, as you say.

'Roses smell sweet when (they are) smelt' is a different sentence. The active form would be 'When you smell roses, they smell sweet'.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much Peter. You always answer my queries. Thank you once again.

Could you please change these sentences into passive?
a) Rose polished the shoes herself.
b) Peter shall decorate his house at Christmas.
c) Narayan stopped me from entering the hall.
I am really confused on using by + agent,where do we have to write by+agent when there are time adverbials and some other words and phrases after object in the active sentences?


Please try to do the transformation yourself first and then we will comment on it; this is a much better way to learn than to simply be given the answers!

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

I need some help I am doing some grammar exercises and have come across an exercise where it asks me to answer in correct tense or voice would this me active or passive voice? I'm a bit confused.

Hello chicca8080,

Yes, 'voice' here would refer to active or passive voice. Tense describes time reference (past or present) and aspect refers to perfective or continuous aspect.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team