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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



what will be the passive of
1) Please do the work
2) Tell him to go
3)Do away with it

Hello mourin,

These are all imperative sentences and generally we use 'let... be...' to make passive forms of these sentences. I'll show you how to change one of the sentences, and if you want to change the others yourself we'll be happy to tell you if you did it correctly.

Do away with it >>> Let it be done away with.



The LearnEnglish Team

please tell me whether I'm correct or not:
1)Let the work be done
2)Let him be gone by telling him
and THANKS for the help

Hello mourin

1 is grammatically correct, but 2 is quite strange because we don't normally use 'by' with a third-person imperative. I don't really understand what 2 means.

In any case, please note that these forms are quite unusual in everyday English nowadays.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Is it grammatically correct to say: (I know who is going to be our new head of department but I've been asked not to tell anyone.) instead of (I know who our new head of department is going to be but I've been asked not to tell anyone).

Hello mousab7

Yes, that is correct, though if I were writing this, I would choose the second option over the first one.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, Is there any refrence to show how each tense of verbs change in passive form

Hello parisaach

The passive is essentially formed of two parts: 1) the verb 'be' (used as an auxiliary verb) and 2) the past participle of the verb. It's only 1 that changes for tense or subject, so that means you could just list out all the forms of 'be' in the different tenses and then add 2 to the end to get a list.

For example, following the order of the tenses on the present tense page: it is written, it is being written, it has been written, it has been being written. The past tense page: it was written, it was being written, it had been written, it had been being written. Then there are also forms with 'will' and 'would': it will be written, it will be being written, it will have been written, it will have been being written, it would be written, it would be being written, it would have been written and it would have been being written.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

"The cleaner has cleaned the office" --> active voice. But is "the office has been cleaned" the correct passive, or "the office has been cleaned by the cleaner".
Is there a rule regrading "the cleaner"??

Hello Cleo

In the passive sentence, you can include the agent ('the cleaner') by using the word 'by': 'The office has been cleaned by the cleaner'. There is nothing wrong with this, but often we use the passive voice because we consider the agent (in this case, the cleaner) irrelevant or something that we don't want to discuss. So in many cases, people would probably leave out the agent.

But the passive can be used for other reasons, too, and in these cases people might choose to include the agent.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team