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  
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

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 help me to get rid of some hesitations:

How do we write Present/Past/Future perfect continuous sentences in passive voice?
For Instance,
John had been driving the car for two years before he sold it.
The car had been being driven by John for two years.
The car had been driven by John for two years.

Which passive sentence is correct?

Hello Ayyubkhan,

Both sentences are grammatically correct. The first sentence is a past perfect continuous passive and the second a past perfect simple passive. The first of these is quite unusual in English, partly because a very unusual context is required and partly because it is rather an awkward form because of the number of auxiliary verbs required, and so it is avoided where possible.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

could you help me ,Which sentence is correct and why
1- We delegate our local agent to receive from you the certificate to be sent back to us .
2- We delegate our local agent to receive from you the certificate to be sending back to us .

why we use " sent " in past participle , and what does it mean ?

Hello Nermeen Eletriby,

The second sentence is not grammatically correct. The first sentence is correct, but whether it would be suitable will depend on the context, of course.

'Sent' is used here because the construction to be sent is a passive form and we make the passive with the verb be and a past participle.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello.I'm squeezing my brains because I have a couple of doubts about adverbial phrases and order in passive sentences. Basically, I don't know how to deal with several adverbs and by subject.
For example, The packet has been carefully delivered to John by his family recently to encourage him.
Or, The packet has been carefully delivered to John recently by his family to encourage.
And finally, what about prepositions and questions?
Who was the email sent by yesterday? Who was the email sent yesterday by?
Thanks a lot.

Hello Solstice,

Yes, this is a difficult point and one that ultimately is often a matter of style. Of the two versions of the first sentence, the second is more natural-sounding. If you're actually using this sentence in a text, I'd encourage you to consider changing it to the active voice, or perhaps communicating the idea of 'carefully' in another way. For example, you could say 'John's family recently sent him a package to encourage him' -- here I've taken out 'carefully' (which seemed unimportant to me, though of course I could be completely wrong!) and reworded it in the active voice.

But I understand you may not really be using this sentence in a real text, and are just asking about adverb position in general.

As for the second sentence, the second version is quite unnatural-sounding; I doubt you'd ever hear that, unless someone was adding details as they spoke. The first version is much better, though again, a more natural and common version of the same idea would be 'Who sent the email yesterday?' or even 'Who sent the email?' or 'Who was the email sent by?' -- the idea of yesterday would probably be expressed in a different sentence.

I hope my answer hasn't complicated the issue for you even more. That is certainly not my intention -- I mention these other possibilities (e.g. using the active voice) because that is the way English tends to be spoken.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Kirk. Your comments are really useful to clarify my doubts. As you said, I didn't hear those examples in real context, but when it comes down to written texts, I wondered how those complements should be organized.

I feel a bit dolorous, if a video would be present to explain on behalf of topic it would be sophisticating.

Could you please explain how to use perfect infinitives in Impersonal Passive statements? Thank you in advance ;)

Hi Anita Learner,

Do you have an example sentence? The comments sections here are not suited for long explanations of grammar rules in detail, but we can address specific examples. A concrete example is helpful also to make clear exactly what you mean, whereas describing structures with this kind of terminology is often confusing.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team