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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



Hello Hosseinpour

That is grammatically correct, though the end of the sentence isn't completely clear to me. I don't understand what 'recognition in matters and administration' means.

Hope this helps.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. What is the difference between the two verb forms ?
I had a technician check our old television set.
I had a technician checking our old television set.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam

In the first, you say that you arranged for the technician to come and she checked the TV. In the second one, you're speaking about a specific time in the past, and at the time, the technician was checking your TV.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Why do I refuse to be interviewed ?
( Change the voice) would you please help me with answer including explanation ) ?

Hello Ramesh

Maybe 'Why do I refuse to interview her?' I'd recommend you ask your teacher.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir,
I found this question in the TOEIC textbook and found it hard to choose the correct answer. I think it would be helpful for everyone so I posted here:
"For some time, we allowed sales reps to pay for their car rentals up front with their personal cards or cash and then be reimbursed later. This is no longer the policy. As of June 15, all payments for rentals were supposed to have………..…….with the company card that was assigned to each of you."
A. making be made
D.been made
I opted for D but the answer is B. Can you explain it for me?
Thankyou so much. I'm looking forward to hearing from you soon ^^

Good day,

To my understanding the answer should be B. At first I opted for D however B makes more sense.

To explain, in the statement, the words are being directed towards the employees of a car rental company right?

So the speaker of the statement said that prior to June 15th they were allowed to pay with either cash or personal cards then be reimbursed afterwards, however, from June 15th onwards, that should have been stopped, but the employees did not follow the new policy.

In the article above it says the intermediate level of the passive voice uses the infinitive plus the past participle which seems to be used in this case.

Recall that it's the action where the emphasis lies rather than the doer of the action. So I believe that for emphasis 'B' would be the answer rather than 'D' because, (to be made) more emphasizes the action, meanwhile, (been made) more adds emphasis to the doer(s) of the action.

Option 'B' also implies that in future they will be expected to follow policy and there may be consequences if it isn't followed. Similar to the example in the intermediate level.

To me it seems the speaker is more upset with the fact that the action was not done rather than who did not do the action.

Thus, making the correct answer to be 'B'.

Hence the reason this statement was being directed to them in the first place in order to emphasize that they did not do the right act or in other words breeching company policy.

This is all of my opinion and interpretation.

Hello Quynh Nhu,

In my opinion option D is the best and correct answer. Option B does not strike me as a natural formulation. If have to (obligation) is required then we would not use suppose here:

...all payments [...] were supposed to have been made...


...all payments [...] had to be made...

Alternatively, you could use a present form as the situation is still current:

...all payments [...] have to be made...


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The LearnEnglish Team

Thankyou, Peter.
You've made it very clear to me. I appreciate your work.
Have a nice weekend^^

Dear sir, please explain the answer. I opted for option B. But our teacher says it will be option D. Please explain the passive -

It is impossible to do this.

A. Doing this is impossible

B. This is impossible to be done

C. This must not be done

D. This can’t be done