Level: beginner

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.

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.

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.

Active and passive voice 1


Active and passive voice 2


Active and passive voice 3


Level: intermediate

The passive infinitive is made up of to be with a past participle:

The doors are going to be locked at ten o'clock.
You shouldn't have done that. You ought to be punished.

We sometimes use the verb get with a past participle to form the passive:

Be careful with that glass. It might get broken.
Peter got hurt in a crash.

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.
Active and passive voice 4


Active and passive voice 5


Level: advanced

Some verbs which are very frequently used in the passive are followed by the to-infinitive:

be supposed to be expected to be asked to be told to
be scheduled to be allowed to be invited to be ordered 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.

Active and passive voice 6


Active and passive voice 7



Hello Peter,

You are great! Your explanation is very clear and solved my doubt. Really appreciate it and Thank You very much for the time.

Best Wishes

Thank you for the response towards my query. I really would like to know if a passive voice is possible at all for the sentence that I brought up earlier, which is:
They are playing in the park.
The reason I ask this is because this is a sentence in one of the exercises of a fifth standard English text book and it has us a bit worried.

Hi Debjen,
No, a passive form is not possible for this sentence.  In this sentence 'play' is an intransitive verb and cannot be made into a passive form.
To make a sentence in the passive with 'play' you would need to make it transitive ('They are playing SOMETHING in the park').  Then, it would be possible to use the passive voice.
I hope that's clear.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

culd i pls knw what is transtive or intransative words....???
becose as u told to miss. "Debjen" about the sentense "they are playing in the park".
i asked the same sentence to my sir but he told that it is possible to make passive of it...
so m confused...
plz help me....

Hello sharmakishan987,
Transitive verbs are verbs which have an object.  For example:
'I ate a sandwich.'  ['ate' is the verb; 'a sandwich' is the object]
Intransitive verbs do not have an object.  For example:
'The sun rose.' ['rose' is the verb (the past form of 'rise'); there is no object]
You can find more information on transitive verbs here and more information on intransitive verbs here.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello LearnEnglish Team! Could you please tell me if the passive form is possible for The Future Continuous Tense. I remember when I learnt tenses and passives at school, we were taught that passive form of this tense wasn't possible however, our college teachers, who teach B.A English, have been doing it with "will be being+past participle".  eg: When I reach home, my mother will be cooking food"
 They would make its passive like this, "The food will be being cooked". Honestly, to me, it's always looked unnatural. I've been through all the examples on this page and there isn't a single one telling that the passive form for this tense is possible. I was just wondering if you could clarify.

Hi skinnypigeon,
"The food will be being cooked" also sounds a bit strange to me, though I don't think it's incorrect, but rather just very unusual.
Have you seen our Verb Machine? If you use it, you'll see that it does allow for a passive future continuous verb form, though note that it doesn't use the term future tense but rather will.
Another useful exercise for you might be to search for "will be being" in a corpus. A corpus is essentially a collection of words that have been printed in a language, so by searching in a corpus, you can see how words or expressions have been used by others. Here are two different ones you could search in: The British National Corpus and The Corpus of Contemporary American English. And if you prefer, you can always use a search engine as a corpus by searching for "will be being" (in quotation marks) in a search engine!
Please let us know what you find!
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks very much indeed Kirk! I've not been to the Verb Machine page before but I'm now going to see it for sure.

Hi there,
I looked up the verb 'injure' in a dictionary. It tells me that it is transitive verb like injure something/yourself/someone. Also, 'injured' is an adjective. Therefore, I am not sure if the word - injured is a passive or adjective in the following examples.
I was wondering if I was right in thinking like this? "Three people were killed and 5 (people) (were) injured in the cash". 
Also I have seen a real-life example about the use of the verb - injure: Dozens have been killed and many more injured in a passenger train derailment.
Was I right in thinking like this as well? Dozens have been killed and many more (people) ( have been) injured.....
Thanks for your help in advance.
Best regards,

Hello Chris,
Great work! Your interpretation of the two sentences is exactly right! In both cases, the subject and auxiliary verb are the same for both verbs, and so they have been omitted before the second verb. This is very common in both spoken and written English, and especially in the news.
It is very common to use past participles as adjectives. You can see some more examples on our adjectives: -ed and -ing page if you're interested.
Please let us know if you have any other questions.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team