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Active and passive voice

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



Really , I cannot understand this example of passive voice .
Someone sent her a cheque for a thousand euros >> She was sent a cheque for a thousand euros.
I understood that should be A cheque for 1000 euros was sent to her .
Please could you help me . Thanks

Hello fernandoricagno,

Give is an example of a very with two objects, one direct (her in your example) and one indirect (a cheque). This verb can form active sentences in two ways (I'll simplify your example to make the explanation clearer):

1 - Paul sent a cheque to her.

2 - Paul sent her a cheque.


The passive form is different for each:

1 - A cheque was sent to her (by Paul)

2 - She was sent a cheque (by Paul)


You can read a detailed explanation of why this is the case on this page if you're interested in the grammatical justification.



The LearnEnglish Team

is it correct to use "Issue is arisen..."

Hello sandyA,

I think two changes are needed. First of all, we would not use 'is' here but (depending on the context) you could say has arisen. Second, you would need an article so you would say either an issue or the issue, again depending on the context.



The LearnEnglish Team


Can someone help me know if my answers in this exercise are correct?

1.- We recycle 40 per cent of our paper.
Passive: 40 per cent of our paper is recycled by us.

2.- We select candidates bases on their experience and qualifications.
Passive: Candidates are selected by us based on their experience and qualifications.

3.- In 2000, companies produced 101 million bicycles and 41 million cars worldwide.
Passive: 101 million bicycles and 41 million cars were produced by companies worldwide, in 2000.

4.- The USA grows 40 per cent of al corn.
Passive: 40 per cent of all corn is grown by the USA.

5.- In the 1998, the USA imported $4 billion worth of fruit.
Passive: $4 billion worth of fruit was imported by the USA, In 1998.

6.- In 1993, people spent $2 billion on exercise equipment in the USA.
Passive: $2 billion were spent by people on exercise equipment in the USA, In 1993.

7.- Australian universities enrolled 600,000 students in 2005.
Passive: 600,000 students were enrolled by Australian universities in 2005.

Hi gusanodvr,

I'm afraid we don't provide this kind of service. We're happy to provide help and explanations of our own materials, or to help where we can with more general questions about the language or culture, but we don't check materials from elsewhere. If we tried to do this then we would end up doing our users' tests and homework for them, which is not our role. In any case, we are a small team here and we simply don't have the resources to provide this kind of service.

If the exercise is from a book then a key should be provided. If a teacher gave it to you then the teacher should check it.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir,
May I know if the structure of the following two sentences are acceptable.

1) He was scolded for being late by the teacher yesterday.
2) He was scolded by the teacher for being late.

Is "for being late" considered as an object or purpose?
Thank you.

Hi Amanda,

Both sentences are fine. The position of the phrase for being late is flexible.

The phrase is an example of a prepositional phrase. This is made up of a preposition (for) and an object (being late). Prepositional phrases can have adjectival or adverbial functions in the sentence and in your example it has an adverbial function.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,
Thank you so much.


Dear sir,
Would you mind telling me which of the following sentences you would prefer and why?
(i). I have a lot of work to do.
(ii) I have a lot of work to be done.
Thank you in advance.