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

The passive forms are made up of the verb be with a past participle:

  be past participle  
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The windows have been cleaned  
Lunch was being served  
The work will be finished soon
They might have been invited to the party

We sometimes use the verb get to form the passive:

Be careful with the glass. It might get broken.
Peter got hurt in a crash.

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.

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.

Some verbs very frequently used in the passive are followed by the to-infinitive:


be supposed to be expected to be asked to
be scheduled to be allowed to be told 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. 






Could you please explain this sentence for me "Prices to be set " how can we use "to" in a passive form?!

Thanks in advance

Hello Hagar28,

This isn't really a sentence as it has no main verb. Without knowing the context you saw it in, I can't say for sure, but I imagine that the verb 'are' has been omitted. This is an example of a passive infinitive. The passive voice requires the verb 'be' (here in infinitive form) and the past participle, both of which are present here.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Good day,
The whole sentence is "Prices to be set when the collection arrives". I guess it's a future tense but in a passive form, So it's not very clear for me why we didn't use "will be set" instead of "to be set" and when we use it?

Thanks in advance &Best Regards,

Hello hagar28,

That sentence is technically incomplete, though this doesn't mean that people don't say it or write it this way. Really the complete sentence would have the word 'are' before the infinitive. There's an explanation of the way the infinitive is used here on this archived BBC page.

Or you could say 'will be set' instead of 'are to be set' -- they mean the same thing.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Could someone please tell me if the following sentence is in a passive tense or not?

"Did he ever build a house with
a chimney ordered by the government?"


Hello maxarsh,

This sentence has a kind of reduced relative clause in it, and the implied relative clause has a passive verb in it. To be more specific, I'd say this sentence is a reduced version of 'Did he ever build a house with a chimney that was ordered by the government?'. 'was ordered' is a passive verb.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


I just chanced upon this website, hence the late comment to an old post.

If the sentence has a reduced relative clause as stated here "He built a house ordered by the government.", can we still say that the sentence is in passive voice?


Hello Leoz,

I wouldn't say the sentence is in the passive voice since the clause 'he built a house' is clearly active, but I think you could say that the sentence has a passive in it, as the reduced clause is a reduced passive form.

Someone else might disagree with me, but that's what I'd say. Does that make sense? I hope this helps you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team