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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



Hi great moderators and teachers,
I don't understand one thing about the verb 'express' .

While reading a text, I saw that and decided to learn how to use.

For example when I say;
'I expressed my ideas to her'-->Active voice. But I am confused about how I can use with passive voice.

"My ideas were expressed to her. " or
'She was expressed my ideas.'
I think both of them. But I am not sure.
Thanks a lot.

Hello Nevı,

Your sentence has a direct object (my ideas) and an indirect object (her). We use the direct object as the subject in passive voice:

My ideas were expressed to her.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot teacher Peter.I am very grateful.
So the sentence
"My ideas were expressed to her. " is more common.

But the sentence
'She was expressed my ideas.'(passive with indirect object) is also true but less common. ??? Isn't it.

British Council teachers and team are perfect. They help us and answer our questions. Thanks for your helps.
Best wishes.

Hello again Nevı,

No, 'She was expressed my ideas' is not a correct sentence.

As I said, we use the direct object as the subject in a passive sentence, not the indirect object.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi great teachers Peter, Kirk and Jonathan.
I want to learn new things.And I am confused about one thing.

While I reading a text to improve my skills, I didn't understand one word which is 'thronged' in that sentence

-The streets were thronged with shoppers.-

Then I looked different dictionares and one of them said 'be thronged with' is phrasel verb.(Oxford Dict.)

Second one said 'thronged' is an adjective and it's structure is "verb-link ADJECTIVE with noun" (Collins Dict.)

To sum up, I am very confused. Is ' be thronged with ' an adjective pattern or a 'phrasel verb'? Maybe a grammar topic haven't known anything about.

Thank you a lot

Hello Nevı,

I'm surprised by the definition you found in the Oxford Dictionary and don't know how to explain that. I see something different in the Lexico UK dictionary (which is based on the Oxford Dictionary) win the definition for 'throng'.

What Collins says makes sense to me, and matches what Cambridge and Longman show as well. In other words, I'd recommend you view it as an adjective formed from the past participle of the verb 'throng'; it often collocates with the preposition 'with', but there are other patterns as well.

It's always a good idea to check several sources.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, we cannot say 'your suggestions are welcomed' but say your suggestions are welcome because welcome is treated as an adjective here. We can say 'they were welcomed by us' but why can't we say 'you are welcomed by us' or 'your suggestions are welcomed by us.' and why only 'your suggestions are welcome' Regards

Hello dipakrgandhi,

It's important to recognise the communicative function here, as it is not the same for all of these sentences.


When we are describing a fact in the world, we can use these sentences:

They were welcomed by us.

You are welcomed by us.

You suggestions are welcomed by us.

All of these sentences are correct. For example, a hotel might say this to its guests:

We are a friendly and open business, so all of your suggestions are welcomed by us.


However, sometimes the function is not simply to describe a fact. For example, Your suggestions are welcome has the function of encouraging people to make suggestions.



The LearnEnglish Team

John has been asked to get dressed by the staff. "You are supposed to wear a cloth in public. Hurry up! The meaning is scheduled to start soon." ;)


1. This is to inform you that below mentioned employee's cab delayed in arriving office at standard time. (Verb delay intransitive) past indefinite tense

2. This is to inform you that below mentioned employee's cab was
delayed in arriving office at standard time.( Here, Delayed as an adjective) simple past sentence

Both the sentences are correct when I use the word delay as an adjective and verb (intransitive) in the context?