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. 




Hi Sir,
I am from Afghanistan I want improve my English skills please advise me important point to essay way to learn and improve English skills .

Hi Khairullah,

I'd suggest you work through some episodes of the Elementary Podcasts. Start with series 3 episode 1. First, listen to the one or two sections of the podcast, and then read the transcript (under Instructions & downloads) as you listen. Then work through the exercises that correspond to the sections you've listened to.

To work on improving your pronunciation and fluency, choose some useful phrases from what you've listened to and imitate their pronunciation - repeat those words and phrases many times. Pronounce whole phrases, not just words, because the pronunciation of words in English varies to some degree according to context. Repeat these phrases until they're relatively easy to say. This is slow work, but you'll be building up a repertoire that you'll be able to use in your speaking. If you can practise speaking English with other people who speak it well (they don't have to be natives), that will also help you a great deal.

To improve your writing, respond to the discussion questions at the bottom of each episode. Try to engage other users in a written conversation. If you can find a teacher to correct your writing (unfortunately we cannot do this for you), that will also be really helpful. It's also a good idea to read texts that are similar to the ones that you'll need to write. For example, if you need to write articles, read articles.

Good luck!

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir.
Can the sentence "He jumped into the river." be changed into passive. If yes,what is its passive form

Hi smirfan,

No, only transitive verbs (verbs which have a direct object) can be used in the passive. jump in the sense you have used it here is not a transitive verb, and therefore can not be formed in the passive. You would have to change the verb to have a passive sense here, e.g. "He was thrown into the river."

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Q1= I m confused in passive form of modals such might,could etc....
Q2= How we can use could in possibility in present,past and future.....

Hello Learner S,

Modal verbs are not transitive verbs, and therefore have no passive forms.

I think Peter M already answered part of your second question about could. I'd also suggest our certain, probable or possible page for more on how to speak about possibility, including with could. If it's still not clear to you after that, please ask a more specific question so that we can better help you.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear, sir
The pattern sentences below have to be+past participle (is left, is gone, is delayed) form too. I am just confused I think that they are not in passive form . When I am trying to translate such kind of sentences with this pattern I just can't find their direct meaning to my own language. What are they ? Are they Adjective or what?
Thank you very much, in advance!
1. Nothing is left to invest in assets.
2. He is gone.
3. Im sorry, your flight is delayed 7 and a half hours.

Hello Source,The passive vs adjective distinction is a very difficult area, and one which provokes a large amount of discussion.  There are some tests you can use to identify passive forms - for example, you can see if an agent can be added with 'by...'.  There are tests you can use to identify adjectival forms too - try to add a modifier such as very, quite, more or most, or try to use the word before a noun.  However, these are often judgements which are not cut and dried.  That said, I would suggest the following for your sentences:

1. I would say this qualifies as a passive form.  We can add 'by' to the sentence and it, though not perhaps the most elegant formulation, will still be grammatically acceptable ('Nothing is left by us to invest in assets').

2. The verb 'go' here is intransitive (it has no direct object).  Therefore it cannot be a passive form.

3. As with the first sentence, we can add an agent with 'by' here ('Your flight is delayed by bad weather 7 and a half hours'), though a present perfect form would be more likely, given the probably context of the sentence.  It is quite possible to see this as an adjective, however, and to add a modifier ('Your flight has been quite delayed today') or to use it before a noun ('You have a delayed flight, I'm afraid').  This is a good example of the dual natural of many past participles, and the ambiguous nature of their use in particular sentences.

I hope that enlightens you somewhat.  It's a difficult area!

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Please tell me -- What is 1. I will talk to you when I am done.
2. I am done believing you.
Is these sentences are in passive voice too or not if not please explain me what are they then?
Are they grammatically correct or not
Thank you very much in advance

Hello Source,

'Done' in these sentences means the same as 'finished':

'I will talk to you when I am finished.'

'I am finished believing you.'

In these sentences 'done' is an intransitive verb, which means there is no object, and as intransitive verbs cannot form passives the sentences cannot be passive voice.  I have heard it suggested that the 'be + intransive verb' construction (e.g. 'am done') is an old variant of a present perfect form, the equivalent of saying 'have done' or 'have finished', which seems quite likely to me.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team