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. 

 

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Hi, my question on the passive voice of grow: I have seen written "Cells were grown on a rotary shaker" but also "Cells grown on a rotary shaker". what is the difference ?

Hi johny34,

'Cells were grown' is a passive sentence, but 'cells grown on a rotary shaker' is a noun phrase. In other words, the first expresses a complete thought, with a subject and verb, but in the second 'grown' works like an adjective -- it describes what kind of cells you mean. It is a short form of 'cells that were grown on a rotary shaker' (and this phrase has a passive verb), but in the form you ask about, 'grown' works like an adjective. You can read more about how this works in the Simplifying defining relative clauses section of our Defining relative clauses page.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

thanks a lot, much more clear now

Sir,
I am still not receiving the email notifications for the replies to my comments. When I access it through the ' Track ' menu in my account it does not open the exact page where my comment has been answered , and I have to go from page one in that section to search the exact page.

Please suggest the solution.
Thanking you in advance.

Hello dipakrgandhi,

I'll have to check into the matter of email notifications with our technical team and will let you know once I've heard back from them.

As for the 'track' menu, it sounds as if it is working correctly, or at least that is how it works for me as well. Our site is not set up for complex and lengthy exchanges in the comment sections and so this is how it works.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir,

I wonder why if the sentence whether passive or not:

The data also reveals that countries recently plagued by terrorism or political unrest – such as Egypt and Tunisia – still have the tourism pull to rebound from a downward turn.

I look forward to seeing your answer soon.
Thank you.

Hello Harper Nguyen,

I presume you are asking about the verb 'plagued' here. This is actually part of a reduced relative clause. The full sentence (with the relative clause) would be as follows:

The data also reveals that countries which have been recently plagued by terrorism or political unrest – such as Egypt and Tunisia – still have the tourism pull to rebound from a downward turn.

As you can see, the verb in the relative clause is a passive form.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Can we also say'The data also reveals that countries which are plagued ... ' instead of ' ... have been ... '

What difference would it make ?

Hello,
I have started learning English, so i am confused and i don't understand the exact meaning of this sentence: "As for the plants recently cultivated". Is it in passive tense or in active?
Could you please explain it, and if it's in passive, why there is no any verb like "are" or "were" before "cultivated"?
Thank you so much.

Hello frasha,

That is not a complete sentence, so I'm not surprised that you find it difficult to parse. It might be a phrase with ellipsis (i.e. words left out: 'As for the plants (that were) recently cultivated') I'm afraid I can't explain it without knowing the wider context.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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