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  
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. 




Hello, teachers.
I wonder if this sentence is in Future Continuous or in Passive Voice! here is the sentence
(How much money will be sending to the project tomorrow?)
Pleased to give me a clear explanation! Thanks.

Hello Karzan_Camus,

I'm afraid that the verb form in that sentence is not correct. 'will be sent' would be in the passive voice and a form like, for example, 'will you be sending' would be in the future continuous.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

All these days, I have been of the opinion that perfect continuous of all three tenses and future continuous (present/ past/ future) do not have passive forms but in your site on active and passive I noted all the forms said above do have passive.
Is it accepted in the standard English and practiced by Native English speakers in writing?
Please explain.

Hi Peter,
I am thankful to you for the great, detailed explanation about active/ passive which I was a bit confused.

Hi S.Umashankar,

It is perfectly possible to use passive voice with continuous forms. As an aside, i would not use 'tense' to describe all of these - English has only two tenses (past and present), with various forms used to talk about the future including present continous, present simple, modal verbs etc.).

When something is in the process of completion, for example, we can say:

It is being done.

If we want to describe the same situation in the future then we can say:

It will be being done.

If we want to describe the same situation in the future, but looking back from a further point in the future then we can say:

It will have been being done.

However, as you can see these forms can get quite long, with multiple auxiliary verbs making them clumsy and inelegant. We tend to avoid overlong verb structures like this, preferring to use a simpler form such as an active form or an alternative phrasing.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I have difficulty with the passive form of verb spend. look at the sentence bellow:
1.He's spent over an hour looking for the pen that he lost.
but I found this structure "spend time doing sth" in Longman dictionary. then we can say:
2. He spent over an hour ...
what is the difference between 1 and 2?

I think sentence No. 2 sounds more natural because when we are looking for something we allocate time deliberately in order to a find the lost thing.

Hello Moosa_Hosseini,

Neither of these sentences is a passive form. The first sentence has a present perfect verb ('He has spent') and the second has a past simple form ('He spent'). Neither is incorrect.

The difference between the two is whether the action is seen as something which has a current result such as the man being tired or frustrated (sentence 1) or is seen as something in the past which is finished an no longer relevant (sentence 2).

For more information on these forms take a look at our sections on the present perfect and past simple in the Verbs part of the English Grammar section.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

thank you Peter for your prompt response. my mistake was that I thought "he's spent" is the abbrevation for "he is spent" which does not make sense in this case. It could be and in this sentense It must be considered as the short form of "He has spent".


Hello sir,
Can every transitive verb be changed into the opposite voice?
If someone says "It is time to do your duty.", can this/these type of sentences be also changed to the opposite voice?