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


Take your language skills and your career to the next level
Get unlimited access to our self-study courses for only £5.99/month.

culd i pls knw what is transtive or intransative words....???
becose as u told to miss. "Debjen" about the sentense "they are playing in the park".
i asked the same sentence to my sir but he told that it is possible to make passive of it...
so m confused...
plz help me....

Hello sharmakishan987,

Transitive verbs are verbs which have an object.  For example:

'I ate a sandwich.'  ['ate' is the verb; 'a sandwich' is the object]

Intransitive verbs do not have an object.  For example:

'The sun rose.' ['rose' is the verb (the past form of 'rise'); there is no object]

You can find more information on transitive verbs here and more information on intransitive verbs here.


Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

I'm confused by the auxiliary verb "Be", especially in the Perfect form and Passive voice. For example, in present perfect - They have been married since last year.. In this example have=be, been=Past Participle and married is adj. But in another example in Passive Voice eg. The windows have been cleaned by this morning. In this case have been=be and cleaned=Past Participle. Shouldn't it be the second example is also in the form of present perfect? Is it possible to use have been=be + Past Participle in perfect aspect? For more similar examples like this; 1) The job should has been completed by now. 2) There are 3 casualties have been rescued over the fire incident this morning. 3) The injured person had been attended in time and now he is in hospital. 4) The old lady had been taken to hospital before she dead. 5) A boy had been bitten by your dog, when he passed by your house this morning. Should the examples above considerable to be the Pefect Aspect or Passive Voice and Why? Please give more useful examples in this two forms for better understanding. Million thanks in advance.

Hello Mydearfriend73,

Wow - that's a lot of examples!  I think it's not quite so complicated as you are making it.  To simplify it for you, let's remind ourselves of how we make these two forms:


  • perfect forms are made with have + the 3rd form (past participle)

to make different tenses we change the form of 'have'


  • passive forms are made with be + the 3rd form (past participle)

to make different tenses we change the form of 'be'


Confusion can occur because 'have been' can be the (active voice) present perfect form of 'be' and it can be part of a passive form (present perfect passive).


In your first example - 'They have been married since last year' - you have a present perfect form (active voice - have been is the present perfect form of 'be') with an adjective:

They are married / They were married / They will be married / They have been married etc.

I don't think it's helpful to try to break it down into 'have = be' and so on.  It's a normal active voice present perfect form followed by an adjective.  The adjective 'married' looks like a 3rd form, which is confusing.  However, you can replace it with other adjectives such as 'happy' or 'famous', which makes the verb form clearer.

Your second example - 'The windows have been cleaned this morning' (without 'by') is a passive form.  It's also a perfect form because it's a present perfect passive.

present perfect (active voice) = have cleaned

They have cleaned the windows this morning

present perfect (passive voice) = have been cleaned

The windows have been cleaned this morning


You can find more information on perfective forms here, which may help you.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

I have a problem in academic writing. How can I improve it?

Moreover, I have problem for using word "supposed to"? where we should use it? Thanks.


I wanted to know what the Passive voice would be for the following sentence:

They are playing in the park.

All I have managed to come up with is 

a) Playing is done by them in the park.

b) The game is being played by them in the park.

Also wanted to know if an object can be introduced while changing a sentence from active voice to passive.

Hello Debjen

The problem you have is that in your sentence you are using 'play' as an intransitive verb - i.e. one without an object.  Play can be transitive or intransitive:

  • transitive (with an object): They are playing football in the park
  • intransitive (without an object): They are playing in the park

We can only make passive sentences if we have an object.  So, we can make a passive sentence from the transitive example:

Football is being played in the park (by them)

We cannot make one from the intransitive example.

What you have done - cleverly - is to introduce an object into the sentence by (in your first try) making 'playing' into a gerund (i.e. a noun) instead of a verb (as part of the present continuous).  In your second try you have introduced an object ('the game') which was not there in the original sentence.  Those are clever cheats to try to get around the problem of having an intransitive verb, but they are still 'cheats'!

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi... can anyone help me.

I can't understand  indirect object as the subject of a passive verb?

sir.. i tried to transform this sentence... so my answers are.. here also two sentences are possible... 1) She was sent a cheque for thousand euros by someone. 2) A thousand euros cheque was sent to her. Am I correct? Thanks

Hello munish064,

Those are almost correct. The correct forms would be:

She was sent a cheque for a thousand euros.

A thousand-euro cheque was sent to her.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


I am required to change the following to passive voice without changing the tense or meaning:

a.  The games master coaches the football team

b.  John is playing ball.

c.  The butcher is killing a goat

d.  Will the messenger deliver the letter?

e.  Did you buy this book?

Below is what I think the passive should be -

a.  The football team is being coached by the games master.

b.  Ball is being played by John.

c.  A goat is being killed by the butcher.

d.  Will the letter be delivered by the messenger?

e.  Was this book bought by you?

Kindly let me know if I am correct.  Thank you.


Could sb kindly tell me the passive voice of (I'll be doing my homework at 7 tomorrow)

Hello hisham ali!


Why not try to work it out? Homework will be the subject, and you are using future continuous passive. If you can't work out the answer from the information on this page, try our new verb machine game - that may help you!




Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Tharaka,

The sentence 'Homework will be being done by me at 7 tomorrow' is, grammatically speaking, perfectly correct. However, it's very unnatural and I cannot think of a situation when it would be used in real life.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


Could u please tell me how to change questions into passive?

I don't know how to handle it.

Hello jolin!


If you have a look at our page on question forms, you'll see a couple of examples. You need to move the auxillary verb (be in simple passive, have in perfect forms, will in future forms) to the front and add a question word if necessary. For example:


The pyramids were built 4,000 years ago.


When were the pyramids built?


The clothes have been cleaned.


Have the clothes been cleaned?


Hope that helps!



The LearnEnglish Team


Hello, can somebody help me with this sentence which is active, and I have to change it into passive:

He cannot rear any cattle on his farm.


Any cattle cannot be reared on his farm by him.


On his farm any cattle cannot be reared by him.


Any cattle cannot be reared by him on his farm.

Please tell me which one is correct. 

I was taught that when there are two objects in a sentence, e.g. I teach you English, and if we want to change that sentence into passive voice then we place the direct object (English) at first, then a suitable helping verb and the third form of the main verb, then the indirect object (You), then we write 'by' and then the objective form of the subject i.e. I (English is taught to you by me.) Should this order also be followed for this sentence: He cannot rear any cattle on his farm. Please explain. 



The main problem with your sentences is not the word order - it's the word choice! You need to change 'any cattle' to 'no cattle' and change the verb from negative to positive.

The word order really depends on what you take the emphasis of the active sentence to be. The third of your examples is probably the most obvious, but the others could work too, depending on the precise meaning.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

1. Lies are not told by good boys.
2. Your parents be obeyed.
3. The poor are being fed.
4. The truth is always let to be spoken.
5. The truth has not been spoken.
6. It must be kept secret.
7. You thank God.
8. He was punished by the teacher.
9. The woodcutter cut the tree.
10. Quinine tastes bitter.
11. He had been taught a good lesson.
12. The door be opened.
13. The police will look into by the matter.
14. Writing be stopped.
15. This book will have been read.

Hello! Kindly explain all rules regarding active and passive voices.Would you also be kind enough to change the voice of the following sentences: 1. Good boys do not tell lies. 2. Obey your parents. 3. He's feeding the poor. 4. Let the truth be always spoken. 5. You've not spoken the truth. 6. Keep it a secret. 7. God be thanked. 8. The teacher punished him. 9. The tree was being cut by the woodcutter. 10. Quinine tastes bitter. 11. She had taught him a good lesson. 12. Open the door. 13. The matter will be looked into by police. 14. Stop writing. 15. She will have read this book.

Hello Raashid,

There is an explanation of the active and passive voice on this page. Is any part of it not clear or incomplete for you?

I'm afraid we don't have time to rewrite sentences for learners. Sorry!

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Can u please help me telling passeive voice of I have no idea. (change the voice)

Hello Sakina!


We use the passive voice when we want to talk about the object of a sentence, not the subject. You can read more about it on our other passive page. Also, try doing a search. Type passive in the search box on the right of the web page. You will see lots more information and examples there.


Remember, the passive voice is a bit difficult, and we don't use it very much when we speak. If you don't understand it at all, try looking at something a bit easier and come back to the passive later.



Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

She is the person who you should see.
She is the person ______
a)seeing           b)should be seen
c)ought to see   d) to see

Cn anyone tell me which of the answers is correct ,and which grammar point is applied here .
i would appreciate helping from you

hi,this is krishna... i have a one question on voices topic.

Q;change this in to passive voice... "you have got to do what you have to do"

Hello krishna!

That's an interesting question, but I'm not sure why you would want to change that sentence into the passive! It would probably be something like this:

What has got to be done, has got to be done.

Hope that helps


Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, keleninja regarding to your question I have a few answers if I am not mistaken .  

The Lifeboatman are working on the Ship, Barge or on a passenger vessel. Hoping that this will give you some information. Thank you English team.

Hello, Again I have a  question about the sentences in this exercise. I am hoping that  will give me a bit of explanation. If I am  not mistaken about the question.


  1. All members of staff are requested not to smoke anywhere in the building. 

   My question is Members and Staff are the same meaning when it comes to vicinity of workplace condition. Thank you could anybody explain it to me briefly.


i want to know more about tense balancing and is it possible in compound or complex sentence to express an action in the past in the first sentence and express an action in the present in the second sentence also in the third sentence if yes tell me why


Please can you give me some more exercices with passive and active ?

Thank you :)

Hello Ida175!

Don't forget you can search our site using the “Search” box! If you enter 'passive' into that, the first result is this passive exercise page. Keep looking down the list, and you will find other exercises about the passive, like this video about the passive voice from our Word on the Street series – and there's more, too!


Good luck, and enjoy the rest of the site!




The Learn English Team

Hello! I've got some questions,  is it possible to rewrite any sentence in passive voice if it has an object? or is there a point when it sound bad? when do you recommend me to use it?