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. 




hi teacher, i'd like to askk a question for you: i noticed the following expression" lunch was being served ..might i say lunch was served ? and if no, i'd like why no?

thanks to you.


Hi rosario70,

I suppose that my response to your other, similar question answers this for you, but if not, please let us know.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I'm having a hard time understanding if these clauses are active or passive:

Word classes are traditionally called parts of speech.-
There is not a fixed number of word classes. -
We can define the word classes -(this one I'm pretty sure is active, because if it was passive it would be "the word classes can be defined by us", right?)
that we need in our analysis.-
Word classes can be divided into open classes and closed classes. - (passive?)
Open classes are readily open to new words; - (active?)
closed classes are limited classes that rarely admit new words. (active?)

Can someone please help me ?

Hello savannamanna,

There are two sentences with passive forms:

Word classes are traditionally called parts of speech.

Word classes can be divided into open classes and closed classes.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team


Hello there,

"Other products like pens are imported and those are assembling in the factory by the company."
I'd like to know is this sentence grammatically correct or not because I think assembling is wrong to put there.I guess it should be "assembled"Please help me with this.

Thank you.

Hello naaka,

You are correct; the sentence should have 'assembled' and not 'assembling'.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi.....what is the active voice of:
The new car is thought to be eco-friendly
The crisis is expected to finish by 2013.
It was believed that aliens were green.
Dr.Jones is said to het a nomination to a Nobel Prize.
It's predicted that our health will improve in the future

Tina is having her eyes tested on Tuesday.
Please.....transform this sentences fast!!!!!!

Hello Jack,

I think you would learn more if you tried to transform them yourself. Please tell us what you think they should be in the active voice and then we can help you understand any errors you've made.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi! I want to know what what is the passive voice of the sentence ''the teacher tells us what to read".....please

Hi Jack Daniell,

There are two possibilities, depending on which verb is to put into the passive:

'We were told (by the teacher) what to read.'

'The teacher tells us what is to be read.'

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team