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. 





I have read this :

A week after Aarushi's murder, Rajesh Talwar was arrested and spent 60 days in jail before getting bail

I have few doubts :

1. " Rajesh Talwar was arrested " is in passive and so the remaining sentence after 'and ' should either be in passive for it to continue the same subject without repeating or have subject repeated if it is to be in active voice.

2. In its present form does the range of ' was ' extend to verb after ' and ' and effectively makes it : and was spent 60 days in Jail before getting bail , which is wrong.

Please clarify.

Hello dipak,

1. Although it would be a bit clearer if the subject were repeated, it's not strictly necessary here.

2. No it does not.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for the reply, but my doubt no.2 persists :

It is usual that range of helping verb ( to be ) or the main verb extends to the next clause in the complex or composite sentence and that is the reason we do not repeat it in next clause.For example :

Food was prepared and delivered to the customer. Here it means : Food was prepared and it was delivered ... and not food was prepared and it delivered , which would be wrong.
Can you elaborate on when this range extends and when not.

If we apply this to my sentence in earlier query then , I again repeat , it would effectively become : and was spent 60 days ...

If you could reply again.

Hello dipak,

As far as I know, there is no generally accepted rule such as the one you mention. In my own writing -- and I think others would agree with me -- if the meaning is clear, then the subject can be omitted. The sentence you ask about sounds fine to me.

I'm sorry if my answer isn't satisfactory. You might want to do some research on 'ellipsis' (the general term for leaving out words) to learn more about the topic in general.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Sentence: "The house has been being cleaned by John?" - correct or incorrect? ;-)

Hello bilingual,

Correct but quite unusual due to being a bit awkward.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, my question on the passive voice of grow: I have seen written "Cells were grown on a rotary shaker" but also "Cells grown on a rotary shaker". what is the difference ?

Hi johny34,

'Cells were grown' is a passive sentence, but 'cells grown on a rotary shaker' is a noun phrase. In other words, the first expresses a complete thought, with a subject and verb, but in the second 'grown' works like an adjective -- it describes what kind of cells you mean. It is a short form of 'cells that were grown on a rotary shaker' (and this phrase has a passive verb), but in the form you ask about, 'grown' works like an adjective. You can read more about how this works in the Simplifying defining relative clauses section of our Defining relative clauses page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

thanks a lot, much more clear now