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 MilaTong,

Yes, you can say that. It is a grammatically correct sentence.



The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,
Is there any difference in meaning between these two sentences :

The box must have been dropped.
The box must have got dropped.


Hello Arvin,

No, there is no difference in meaning, though the second one would sound inappropriate in formal situations. But there is no difference in meaning.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,
Thank you for the answer.

Dear Sir
I am asking this question to make sure when we use 'by' to show the doer in passive sentences. Eg. The tree was cut by me. The letter was written by the manager
But 'the tree was cut with an axe. The letter was written with a pen. In both these sentences 'with is used instead of 'by'. but in this, for eg. The buildings were destroyed by a violent wind. Now what I would like to know is " Why we use 'by' to show the doer in some and 'with' to show to name the doer. I thought 'by' is for persons and a 'with' is for a thing for eg an axe. a pen. Now I know; I am wrong.
Is there any rule? Please let me know.
Thank you.


My question is regarding the passive form of a sentence that is called "to" passive.

For example
Some locals say that Ali makes delicious food.
Ali is said to make delicious food.
In the same manner what would be the passive form of this sentence underneath?
A large number of people will believe that x-league is a corrupt political party.

Dear Sir
Thank you very much for explaning well my last question about the 'reduced relative
clause.' Now it is very clear. I am sorry that didn't write the full sentence.
Now I have aother question. Please explain this since I am not sure what the reason is exactly.
1.The letter was written by me. 2. The letter was written with a pen. 3. The tree was cut by me. 4.The tree was cut with an axe. 5. The building was destroyed by a cyclone. I was told the No. 1 is person so 'by me' No. 2 is agent (pen so 'with') I understood that but for No. 5 'by cyclone' but cyclone is not a person therefore what I was told is wrong. Again I thought the cyclone itself did it without anyone's help or using it like the 'pen' and 'the axe.' Is that the reason? I am I correct or wrong.
Thank you.

Hello Andrew international,

We use a prepositional phrase with 'by' to indicate the agent of a passive verb action, and a prepositional phrase with 'with' to show the tool or method used to perform the act. The agent does not have to be a person:

He was killed by the disease.

I was hit by the car.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
Thank you for explaning 'by' and 'with' in passive sentences to name the agent. It is very clear now.
I am sorry I asked the same question again today (a few minutes ago).
Thank you

Dear Sir
I would like to know in this sentence the word 'used' which is past participle of use doesn't have a helping verb. Is it undestood the helping verb for eg 'are' but need not write it. I am I correct? The sentence is: Some verbs very frequently 'used' in the pasive ... This is given in the above website.
Please let me know
Thank you.