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. 





I am currently writing Essay in Passive Voice and I am wondering is this sentence is correct? I have a big problem with long sentences like that when I need to say about organizations for example, but how can I do that in Passive Voice?
Most of the organizations (65%) are aware of the problem but they are doubtful how to cope with it.

Hi ZNatalieJM,

That sentence is fine - well done.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Would you mind giving me a clue here? Is the passive voice mostly used in speaking or writing. Does an English teacher have to explicitly focus on passive voice practice while teaching in a speaking session?
Thank you in advance

Hello maysamteacher,

Passive voice can be used in both speaking and writing. It really depends upon the kind of speaking and what the speaker wishes to express. If we do not know who did something then the passive may well be the most natural way to express it, whether in spoken or written form. For example, 'My house was burgled' is more common than 'Someone burgled my house'. Passive forms are also stylistic and rhetorical. They enable us to focus attention on certain parts of the sentence and to omit other parts.

I would not say that the passive is necessarily tied to either speaking or writing. It may be more common in written English, but it is certainly used in spoken English quite frequently.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

This shop sells all the vegetables
Could you please change this to passive

Hello tonykjohn,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers to questions from tests or homework for our users. However, if you want to try to transform it yourself then we'll be happy to tell you if you did it correctly.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Ok thanks for your reply. I had a confusion while transforming
All the vegetables are sold by this shop
All the vegetables are sold in this shop

Which one is correct??

Hello tonykjohn,

Both of those are correct, with slightly different meanings. The first one says that the shop sells the vegetables. The second could mean the same thing, but if taken literally, it could mean that a different business is selling the vegetables inside a shop that doesn't belong to it. But I think in most cases they mean the same thing.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter

Thank you very much for your prompt reply.
I’m afraid I haven’t expressed clear enough about my doubt.
I’ll try better this time.

Texts books or English class websites show how to change active sentences into passive ones.
But in real life things don’t happen that way, don’t they? I mean, for example, a newspaper would simply report the news and not to do grammar exercises.

I have my own “criteria” to use them but I couldn’t find anything on website or textbooks to confirm my “guess”.

Could you please, tell if I’m right?
Here you go.

Most villagers suffer from allergies, and nearly a quarter of them suffer from respiratory diseases.
It is reported (on going event) that everyone in the village has some relative affected by air pollution.

Apparently uniform was the cause of demonstrations at St. Mary Primary School. It was reported (an past event) that everything started when a small number of youth refused to wear “the old-fashioned” uniform….

In DiCaprio case, I definitely would use “It has been reported”.

The local newspaper reported that their Crop Cycle was after all man-made. It had been confirmed
(a recent and a older past) that two grandpas, after a few pints of ales, decided to play aliens with ordinary farming tools.

Thank you very much

Hello Sofia,

As Peter said, the tense of the reporting verb has more to do with the event of reporting than with what is being reported. So, for example, you could say:

  1. It is reported that most villagers suffer from allergies ...
  2. It was reported that most villagers suffer from allergies ...
  3. It has been reported that most villagers suffer from allergies ...
  4. (etc.)

You must choose the most appropriate tense for the verb 'report' depending on how you see the event and what you want to say.

I expect I haven't given the answer you wanted, but if I understand what you're asking for correctly, it's something that I can't really answer! I'm sorry in advance if I'm just not understanding you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team