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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 Raja Muhammad Bashir,

'needed to be developed' is a grammatically correct phrase, but it would change the meaning to simply change that part of the sentence, and the remaining part of the sentence would also need some changing to adjust to that. 

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

thanks sir !

Dear Sir
How to change the below sentence into Passive voice

I avoid seeing him

He avoided being seen/ He avoids being seen,

Thanks in advance

Hello Abdul Azeez Ibrahim,

The original sentence is in the present (avoid) and there is no reason to change this when forming the passive construction. Thus, the second option (avoids) is better.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you.

What would be the sentence if I change it to passive tense.
1. The science behind consumerism makes people buy things without thinking.
2. People buy things that they don't actually need.

Hello Saeed Alnaqbi,

People are made to buy things without thinking by the science behind consumerism.

Things that they don't actually need are bought by people.

I would not recommend you use either of those sentences in the passive voice, however.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

The cake smells good.
The car looks nice.

Here, are *smell and look* stative verb as it is describing the state of the subject(cake and car)?

Hello Rsb,

Yes, those are stative verbs.

The most common types of stative verbs are as follows:

  • verbs of perception/sensation
  • verbs of cognition/emotion/attitude
  • verbs related to having or being
  • verbs related to location/position

Your sentences contain examples of verbs of perception/sensation.



The LearnEnglish Tea