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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 again Aglae
Please see my reply to your comment above. It can take us a day or two to reply and please note that our House Rules ( prohibit flooding.
It is not incorrect, but we generally avoid it. We don't provide examples of language that we wouldn't recommend people use.
All the best
The LearnEnglish Team

In the examples you show none of them is with the present perfect continuous. So, is it incorrect to use the passive voice of the present perfect continuous? Or is it correct but not used?
I can’t find this on any of the books that I have.
I really would like to know. Thanks!

Hello Aglae
Using a present perfect continuous in the passive voice is grammatically correct, but people often avoid it for reasons of style. This is because, for example, 'The book has been being written' is a little difficult to process (especially 'been being') and so sounds awkward.
All the best
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Haroon669

'jump off' can have a transitive or intransitive sense. In the example you ask about, it has a transitive sense (with 'step' being the object), so in theory you could say 'The step was jumped off by the man', but it would be very unusual to say that. I would definitely not recommend that you use the passive version of the sentence.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

The lion was killed by the hunter.

In this sentence:
The lion: object.
the hunter: subject.
The act of killing has happened on the lion.
Why do you say that the subject of a passive verb is 'The lion'?

Hello amirfd,
In a passive sentence the grammatical subject is the thing which the action is done to. We can see this because the verb changes to agree with it:
> The lion is killed by the hunter ['the lion' is singular so we have a singular verb ('is')]
> The lions are killed by the hunter ['the lions' is plural so we have a plural verb ('are')]
Verbs agree with their subjects, not their objects. Thus we can see that 'the lion' is the subject.
The LearnEnglish Team

Is the passive of the sentence "He hopes that he can attain better grade", "It is hoped by him that he can attain better grade" correct? Or should it be as "It is hoped that better grade can be attained by him"? If the first (passive one) sentence is incorrect, I want to know the actual reason. I also want to know, if second one is correct, how is the second sentence correct as some of the information from the active one has lost e.g. It is not stated who is actually hoping, it could be he himself or could be his teacher or his parents or someone else. In response if it is said that it's ok to do so and the first one, in which second clause is not passive, is correct, furthermore I want to know if "by him" can be excluded. Please be kind.

Hello Shibasish,
Both sentences are possible. You have two verb phrases in the sentence ('he hopes' and 'he can attain') and each can be passive. The 'by' phrase can be used with either or both of them:
> It is hoped (by him) that a better grade can be attained (by him).
Whether the sentence represents good style is another question, of course.
The LearnEnglish Team

Then, of course, I would very like to know which sentence will do the best that is which represents a good style. And why I was wondering about the question is because my textbook says that when I am asked to passive a sentence I have to do so to all of the clauses, of course if possible. So, I would very glad to learn about your opinion in this manner that is should I passive all the clauses or should I think of good style(which I want to be answered first)!!!

Hello Shibasish
The appropriate style for language is dependent on the situation it's going to be used in, and for what purpose. So we can't really answer your question very well without knowing more about these two factors at the very least. But in general, most writers (as well as speakers) avoid the passive voice unless they want to shift the focus away from the subject for some reason.
For example, a politician who doesn't consider herself responsible for a bad result could say 'mistakes were made' rather than 'my team made mistakes'. In the case you're talking about, I think the active is probably more appropriate.
All the best
The LearnEnglish Team