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. 




Kirk And Peter Do me a favour please : Parents are to blame for not disciplining.. If it was ''parents are to be blamed'' i would understand but what does this mean in active?

Hello ankur the learner,

It depends whether you want the verb 'said' to be in the passive or the verb 'like'. You could say:

'Do you like it?' was said (by him).


'He said 'Is is liked by you?'

However, these are really just grammar games. Neither sentence is a natural sentence in English and it's highly unlikely either would ever be used in normal English.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Am sorry

In that sentence i was trying to change the narration.
Not voice( got confused)
My bad!

Hello ankur,

'He asked me if I liked it' is indeed correct and natural. By the way, this is called reported speech – follow the link if you'd like to learn more about that.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear the LearnEnglish Team members,

I’ve read through your “Active and Passive Voice” page and totally understand what it says. I have a question though. Where exactly should we place the “by + (agent)” in passive sentences? I checked it out in a few books, one of which says it is to be put after the verb of a passive sentence while the others say at the end of a passive sentence.

For short sentences like those on the “Active and Passive” page, I don’t have any problems with them. But when it comes to longer sentences, such as the following ones, I’ll have doubts about their positions.

1) All of the clothes will have been washed by Nancy at home by tomorrow. (It sounds natural and makes sense to me.)

2) All of the clothes will have been washed at home by tomorrow by Nancy. (It doen’t sound natural enough to me. Is it possible?)

Are there any rules for placing the “by + (agent)” in passive sentences? In long sentences with adverbials of time, place, etc at the end, does the “by + (agent)” follow the verb rather than follow the adverbials?

l’d be grateful if you would get back to me at your earliest convenience.

Thank you!


Hello bnpl,

There is no fixed rule for this; it depends on the speaker and is a question of style and the speaker's view of what sounds better. It is not a good idea to separate the 'by...' phrase from the verb too far, but in your examples both alternatives are fine.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,

Thank you so much.