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. 

 

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,

sure, that would be great!

Which of the following passive staments is more accurate in:
"The shareholders thought that the board had rejected the offer".

The board was thought to have rejected the offer.
OR
The offer was thought to have been rejected by the board.

Thank you so much ;)
A.

Hi Anita Learner,

Both options are grammatically correct. Both contain a passive form ('was thought to...'). The difference is that the first sentence contains a passive form followed by an active perfect infinitive ('to have rejected') while the second contains a passive form followed by a passive perfect infinitive ('to have been rejected'). Neither is wrong so it is a question of preference rather than accuracy.

I would probably choose the first option for two reasons. First, the sentence is less clumsy in my opinion. It is clearer and easier to follow. Second, and more importantly, the second sentence is ambiguous. Because you have two passive forms it is not clear which action is done 'by the board'. You can read the sentence to mean that the offer was rejected by the board or that the offer was thought by the board to have been rejected. In general, unless you are aiming for ambiguity, it is better to keep your writing as clear as possible.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,

Thank you for your quick and clear answer, and for your time. Really helpful :))

All the best,

A.

you say this site helps the user to learn English then where are you fulfilling that purpose when you are not able to resolve our doubts. we can get the rules in grammar in any of the book but the doubts we ask you is never been discussed in any of the books. so we put doubts in front of you in a hope that we get solution. what is the use of this site when you cannot clarify doubts asked by us properly, clearly and relavently

Hello paparna1986,

LearnEnglish is a site which is offered entirely free of charge by the British Council. We have many thousands of users and a small team to provide support. Please note that while all of us are teachers, we are not your individual teachers; we provide what help we can to our community and deal with hundreds of comments every week. The comments sections have a particular role on the site, described on this page in the section entitled 'What are the comments sections for?' 

In the last few days you have posted five questions - more than one per day - and each of these has been answered within twenty-four hours, sometimes with lengthy answers providing explanations, links and examples, and all of this, as I mentioned, has been provided entirely free of charge. We hope the help we provide is useful to you and wish you good luck in your studies.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

is non-finite and infinitive one and the same

Hello paparna1986,

Verb forms can be divided into two categories: finite and non-finite. You can see the definitions for each on the pages linked.

The infinitive is one particular form of the verb. It is one of the non-finite forms. The words 'non-finite' and 'infinitive' are confusingly similar, but they are quite different. The infinitive is one form; non-finite describes all forms which fit certain criteria.

The term 'finite' and 'non-finite' are linguistic terms which are useful for academic analysis of the language system, but are not particularly useful for learning to use the language, which is why we do not focus on the distinction on this site. Our focus is on meaning and use, not technical linguistic analysis.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

what will be the passive voice of the following sentences :-

1. She dare not disobey me.

Hello omeshwar narain,

In this sentence, 'dare' is used intransitively; intransitive verbs have no passive form. Therefore I'm afraid there is no direct way of transforming this into the passive voice.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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