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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




'stopped and blocked' are an adjective also?

Hello Rsb,

Yes, both of those words can function as adjectives:

A stopped car can cause big problems on the motorway.

We have several blocked streets after the earthquake.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Rsb and teacher,

I also wanted to ask something about that grammar topic.

For example
There is a explanation in the dictionary about the adj. 'blocked'

However, there is no explanation in the dictionary about the adj 'stopped'.
It directly says past simple and past participle of stop.

I wonder why one participle adjective is shown in the dictionary and other is not.

I would be grateful if you could clear up my confusion.

Thank you in advance.

Hi Nevı,

Some dictionaries do list stopped as an adjective (e.g. the Collins Dictionary). 

Different dictionaries use different criteria for including or excluding words. One of these criteria is probably the frequency of usage - i.e., blocked as an adjective is probably more frequently used than stopped as an adjective.


The LearnEnglish Team

Pete sir,

If I want to use these adjectives with get

For ex. My account got stopped or blocked automatically.

Get' Is used as linking verb as change in state of subject 'my account'

Hello again Rsb,

That use is fine. It's a passive form using 'get' instead of 'be' as the auxiliary verb.



The LearnEnglish Team

'Aliyah gets hospitalized.'

This sentence has two meaning:

1. It can be in passive form. Like Aliyah is/gets hospitalized by someone.
2. It can be simple present sentence where 'hospitalized' work as an adjective and 'gets' is a main verb/linking verb. Right sir?

As per English grammar, we use 'get' in place of 'be' in passive construction.

That rule only apply for simple present, past and future tense only.

Ex. I break the window.( Active)
The window is/gets broken by me .(passive)

If I say, The window is being broken by me.
Here, can't we use 'get' in place of 'be'

This rule is not apply for continuous, perfect , perfect continuous tense ?

Hello Rsb,

The two uses of 'got' that you mention here are just two of quite a few. The sentence you use as an example is grammatically correct, but sounds a little unnatural to me because  there is dissonance between the use of 'get' as an informal passive auxiliary and the word 'hospitalized', which is not informal. Your example is grammatically correct, however -- I just wanted to point this out.

I'm not familiar with the rule you mention about 'get' not being used in passives in continuous or perfect forms, but it does sound like a good guideline in general. It does indeed sound odd to me to say 'The window is getting broken', but I don't think I'd go so far as to say it's incorrect.

Hope this helps.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi sir,

Yes sir it sounds odd if I say 'the window getting being broken by me'.

Overall, we use 'get' in place of be in two conditions:
1. Sentence should be in passive form.
2. Sentence should be of simple present, past and future only.

Hello Rsb,

I understand that perhaps this kind of summary is useful to you, but I wouldn't give my students this kind of thing. This is mainly because I think it's more useful to learn patterns, which allow for more diverse usages, than it is to learn rules, which tend to leave out important details. For example, I think it's important to note that 'get' is more informal than 'be'. I'd also not say it's wrong to use it in continuous tenses, though it is unusual.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team