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. 





what is the passive voice of

Sunil wants that should he be rewarded ?

Hello Ajagalle,

There are several verb forms in this sentence: 'want' and 'should be rewarded'. The second one is already in the passive voice, and although 'want' could be made into a passive form 'is wanted', the resulting sentence 'That he should be rewarded is wanted by Sunil' is so tortuous that no one would ever use it. I'd strongly recommend 'Sunil wants him to be rewarded' instead.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

He made me a picture. Are both passive constructions of this sentence correct- A picture was made for me by him.I was made a picture by him.please explain.

Hello surendra kumar,

Yes, both of those are correct passive sentences.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Pleased to keep in touch with you.
when avoid writing the object "them" in the passive voice.
thank you in advance

Hello Mehdi,

I'm afraid I don't understand your comment. Please feel free to ask again, but please write complete sentences and enclose the forms you're asking about inside inverted commas to make it easier for us to understand what you're asking.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Sorry to bother you again but I need your help.
Grammatically speaking, Is it considered as an error when we write "them" in the passive voice?
example: They import coffee/ coffee is imported by them

Hello Mehdi400,

Grammatically, it is correct, but it sounds odd because the point of using the passive voice is typically to shift focus away from the subject ('they'). If you want to emphasise that they import coffee (as opposed to, for example, tea), a sentence such as 'It's coffee that they import' is more common.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

You say the indirect object is made the subject of passive voice. Can't we make the direct object the subject of passive voice?For example:A book was given to me by him.I think this sentence is correct.If it is so then why you mentioned only indirect object?It creates confusion and one thinks that direct object can't be made subject.

Hello surendra kumar,

I'm sorry if the explanation confused you. The explanation says that an indirect object can become the subject of a passive sentence because many think that only the direct object can become the subject, and so this explanation emphasises the fact that indirect objects can also become the subject. In any case, we plan to revise the grammar section soon, so I'll make a note of your comment and we'll try to make it clearer in the new explanation. 

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team