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


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Hello Debjen

The problem you have is that in your sentence you are using 'play' as an intransitive verb - i.e. one without an object.  Play can be transitive or intransitive:

  • transitive (with an object): They are playing football in the park
  • intransitive (without an object): They are playing in the park

We can only make passive sentences if we have an object.  So, we can make a passive sentence from the transitive example:

Football is being played in the park (by them)

We cannot make one from the intransitive example.

What you have done - cleverly - is to introduce an object into the sentence by (in your first try) making 'playing' into a gerund (i.e. a noun) instead of a verb (as part of the present continuous).  In your second try you have introduced an object ('the game') which was not there in the original sentence.  Those are clever cheats to try to get around the problem of having an intransitive verb, but they are still 'cheats'!

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by english_learner456 on Fri, 14/06/2013 - 17:54


Hi... can anyone help me.

I can't understand  indirect object as the subject of a passive verb?

Submitted by munish064 on Fri, 29/01/2016 - 09:04

sir.. i tried to transform this sentence... so my answers are.. here also two sentences are possible... 1) She was sent a cheque for thousand euros by someone. 2) A thousand euros cheque was sent to her. Am I correct? Thanks

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 30/01/2016 - 09:27

In reply to by munish064


Hello munish064,

Those are almost correct. The correct forms would be:

She was sent a cheque for a thousand euros.

A thousand-euro cheque was sent to her.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by funmmy on Thu, 06/06/2013 - 22:54



I am required to change the following to passive voice without changing the tense or meaning:

a.  The games master coaches the football team

b.  John is playing ball.

c.  The butcher is killing a goat

d.  Will the messenger deliver the letter?

e.  Did you buy this book?

Below is what I think the passive should be -

a.  The football team is being coached by the games master.

b.  Ball is being played by John.

c.  A goat is being killed by the butcher.

d.  Will the letter be delivered by the messenger?

e.  Was this book bought by you?

Kindly let me know if I am correct.  Thank you.


Submitted by hisham ali on Sat, 13/04/2013 - 20:42


Could sb kindly tell me the passive voice of (I'll be doing my homework at 7 tomorrow)

Hello hisham ali!


Why not try to work it out? Homework will be the subject, and you are using future continuous passive. If you can't work out the answer from the information on this page, try our new verb machine game - that may help you!




Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

I'll be doing my homework at 7 tomorrow


future continuous passive


homework will be being done by me at 7 tomorrow.

am i correct?

Hello Tharaka,

The sentence 'Homework will be being done by me at 7 tomorrow' is, grammatically speaking, perfectly correct. However, it's very unnatural and I cannot think of a situation when it would be used in real life.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


Submitted by Hassan Ramadan… on Fri, 12/04/2013 - 22:27


I'm a teacher      (change into passive)

Submitted by m.zedan on Tue, 19/03/2013 - 08:56



i want learn english more

Submitted by jolin on Mon, 18/03/2013 - 11:30


Could u please tell me how to change questions into passive?

I don't know how to handle it.

Hello jolin!


If you have a look at our page on question forms, you'll see a couple of examples. You need to move the auxillary verb (be in simple passive, have in perfect forms, will in future forms) to the front and add a question word if necessary. For example:


The pyramids were built 4,000 years ago.


When were the pyramids built?


The clothes have been cleaned.


Have the clothes been cleaned?


Hope that helps!



The LearnEnglish Team


Submitted by samamafahim on Sun, 03/03/2013 - 14:44


Hello, can somebody help me with this sentence which is active, and I have to change it into passive:

He cannot rear any cattle on his farm.


Any cattle cannot be reared on his farm by him.


On his farm any cattle cannot be reared by him.


Any cattle cannot be reared by him on his farm.

Please tell me which one is correct. 

I was taught that when there are two objects in a sentence, e.g. I teach you English, and if we want to change that sentence into passive voice then we place the direct object (English) at first, then a suitable helping verb and the third form of the main verb, then the indirect object (You), then we write 'by' and then the objective form of the subject i.e. I (English is taught to you by me.) Should this order also be followed for this sentence: He cannot rear any cattle on his farm. Please explain. 



The main problem with your sentences is not the word order - it's the word choice! You need to change 'any cattle' to 'no cattle' and change the verb from negative to positive.

The word order really depends on what you take the emphasis of the active sentence to be. The third of your examples is probably the most obvious, but the others could work too, depending on the precise meaning.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by abdellatif-boudia on Fri, 15/02/2013 - 07:35


1. Lies are not told by good boys.
2. Your parents be obeyed.
3. The poor are being fed.
4. The truth is always let to be spoken.
5. The truth has not been spoken.
6. It must be kept secret.
7. You thank God.
8. He was punished by the teacher.
9. The woodcutter cut the tree.
10. Quinine tastes bitter.
11. He had been taught a good lesson.
12. The door be opened.
13. The police will look into by the matter.
14. Writing be stopped.
15. This book will have been read.

Submitted by A R Bhat on Sun, 27/01/2013 - 17:41

Hello! Kindly explain all rules regarding active and passive voices.Would you also be kind enough to change the voice of the following sentences: 1. Good boys do not tell lies. 2. Obey your parents. 3. He's feeding the poor. 4. Let the truth be always spoken. 5. You've not spoken the truth. 6. Keep it a secret. 7. God be thanked. 8. The teacher punished him. 9. The tree was being cut by the woodcutter. 10. Quinine tastes bitter. 11. She had taught him a good lesson. 12. Open the door. 13. The matter will be looked into by police. 14. Stop writing. 15. She will have read this book.

Hello Raashid,

There is an explanation of the active and passive voice on this page. Is any part of it not clear or incomplete for you?

I'm afraid we don't have time to rewrite sentences for learners. Sorry!

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ghulam abbas on Thu, 20/12/2012 - 18:23

I am wrong.please passive it

Submitted by Sakina Qureshi on Sat, 15/12/2012 - 06:05

Can u please help me telling passeive voice of I have no idea. (change the voice)

Hello Sakina!


We use the passive voice when we want to talk about the object of a sentence, not the subject. You can read more about it on our other passive page. Also, try doing a search. Type passive in the search box on the right of the web page. You will see lots more information and examples there.


Remember, the passive voice is a bit difficult, and we don't use it very much when we speak. If you don't understand it at all, try looking at something a bit easier and come back to the passive later.



Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

She is the person who you should see.
She is the person ______
a)seeing           b)should be seen
c)ought to see   d) to see

Cn anyone tell me which of the answers is correct ,and which grammar point is applied here .
i would appreciate helping from you

Submitted by vishwanatham k… on Sat, 08/12/2012 - 16:54


hi,this is krishna... i have a one question on voices topic.

Q;change this in to passive voice... "you have got to do what you have to do"

Hello krishna!

That's an interesting question, but I'm not sure why you would want to change that sentence into the passive! It would probably be something like this:

What has got to be done, has got to be done.

Hope that helps


Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by jmslayer on Tue, 13/11/2012 - 03:35


Hello, keleninja regarding to your question I have a few answers if I am not mistaken .  

The Lifeboatman are working on the Ship, Barge or on a passenger vessel. Hoping that this will give you some information. Thank you English team.

Submitted by jmslayer on Tue, 13/11/2012 - 03:26


Hello, Again I have a  question about the sentences in this exercise. I am hoping that  will give me a bit of explanation. If I am  not mistaken about the question.


  1. All members of staff are requested not to smoke anywhere in the building. 

   My question is Members and Staff are the same meaning when it comes to vicinity of workplace condition. Thank you could anybody explain it to me briefly.


Submitted by keleninja on Sun, 28/10/2012 - 03:43


hey guys, i just want to asking who is "The lifeboatman  ? or what does that mean??

Submitted by jamesolu on Mon, 17/09/2012 - 06:38


i want to know more about tense balancing and is it possible in compound or complex sentence to express an action in the past in the first sentence and express an action in the present in the second sentence also in the third sentence if yes tell me why

Submitted by raj datta on Sat, 14/07/2012 - 17:00


change the voice:

i killed the cat

Submitted by Ida175 on Tue, 15/05/2012 - 16:20



Please can you give me some more exercices with passive and active ?

Thank you :)

Hello Ida175!

Don't forget you can search our site using the “Search” box! If you enter 'passive' into that, the first result is this passive exercise page. Keep looking down the list, and you will find other exercises about the passive, like this video about the passive voice from our Word on the Street series – and there's more, too!


Good luck, and enjoy the rest of the site!




The Learn English Team

Submitted by lindaaaaaa on Wed, 18/01/2012 - 18:13


is good for me to have information for passive and active


Submitted by JSSierra on Tue, 03/01/2012 - 06:08


Hello! I've got some questions,  is it possible to rewrite any sentence in passive voice if it has an object? or is there a point when it sound bad? when do you recommend me to use it?