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



Thank you so much. I highly appreciate your help.

Hi there.
What is the negative form of a passive voice sentence like: "The exercises have to be done."
Is it, "The exercises don't have to be done"?


There are two possibilities:

The exercises don't have to be done.

The exercises have to be not done.


The first means there is no obligation – it's fine if they are not done.

The second, which is an unusual form but still quite correct means they must not be done. We would usually choose the form must not be rather than have to be not, but it is a correct form.




The LearnEnglish Team


Please bear with me if my question looks long. I always ask very short questions, but this is to help my son with his exam preparation.
This is the question on change of narration in one book :

When they had assembled in front of him , he said ," When I asked you yesterday if you were happy with your lives, all of you said you were contented and did not need anything more. Yet, today I can see the sadness in your faces when you had to leave behind the riches you had gathered in my garden. If you were really happy with your lives, why did you gather the jewel fruits, and why are you so sad now? "

The answer given in the book is :
When they had assembled in front of him he said that when he asked them the previous day whether they were happy with their lives, all of them had said that they were contented and needed nothing more. He added that yet he could see that day the sadness in their faces when they had to leave behind the riches they had gathered in his garden. He further asked that if they were really happy with their lived why they had gathered the jewel fruits and why were so sad that then.

I have few doubts about this answer :

1)For 'I asked you' : It should be he had asked them ... in place of he asked them.

2) for ' if you were happy ' : It should be whether they had been happy - in place of whether they were happy.

3) For ' you were contented ' : It should be they had been contented - in place of they were contented.

4) For ' if you were really happy ... ' : It should be whether they had been really happy - in place of whether they were really happy.
Please share your view and bear with me if it is a long post.

Hello, I would like to ask if I can say 'I am said to be/to have been good at smth', meaning 'They say I am/have been good at it?
All the best, Oleg

Hello Oleg,

Grammatically the sentence is fine. However, the construction 'said to be' is rarely used about oneself. 'People say that I...' is more common, I would say.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, Peter.

Could you please help me?
Scientists had ten students (move - moving) into a house with a garden.
Are both of them correct? If so, Is there a difference in meaning?
Thank you.

Hi Ahmed Imam,

Both are indeed possibly correct, though the second one is quite unusual. The first one is a causative structure -- follow the link to see more examples of this. The second could possibly be used to describe, for example, a stage in some kind of social science experiment, but again, this would be quite unusual and perhaps best expressed another way.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Is it also possible to use the form "moved" or it is 100% wrong?
Scientists had ten students (moved) into a house with a garden.
Thank you.