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

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Active and passive voice 2

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Active and passive voice 3

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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

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Active and passive voice 5

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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

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Active and passive voice 7

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Soumis par ra le lun 21/09/2020 - 00:41

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1-architects design earthquake resistant buildings in San Francisco passive voice : the earthquake resistant building was designed by architects . 2-you must show your international driving license when you hire a car overseas. passive voice : the international driving license are showed when you hire a car overseas . am i right ?

Hello ra,

Those are almost correct. There are slightly different possible answers, but what I'd write is:

1. Earthquake-resistant buildings in San Francisco were designed by architects.

2. An international driving license must be shown when a car is hired overseas.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par ra le jeu 17/09/2020 - 10:10

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hello sir, how to change this active sentences to passive voice ? 1-we need production engineering skilss to develop production that are constantly envolving with new models . 2-at a factory, the workers roast the coffee bean in large commersial roasters. 3-each earthquake teaches engineers another way of coping and reducing the weight of buldings.

Hello ra,

1. Production engineering skills are needed to develop ...

2. At a factory, the coffee beans are roasted by the workers in ...

3. The engineers are taught another way of coping ...

But I wouldn't recomming you use the passive versions of sentences 2 or 3.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Raja Muhammad Bashir le ven 09/10/2020 - 19:52

En réponse à par Kirk

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Should it not be " needed to be developed" ?

Hello Raja Muhammad Bashir,

'needed to be developed' is a grammatically correct phrase, but it would change the meaning to simply change that part of the sentence, and the remaining part of the sentence would also need some changing to adjust to that. 

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Abdul Azeez Ibrahim le sam 12/09/2020 - 07:32

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Dear Sir How to change the below sentence into Passive voice I avoid seeing him He avoided being seen/ He avoids being seen, Thanks in advance

Soumis par Peter M. le sam 12/09/2020 - 08:55

En réponse à par Abdul Azeez Ibrahim

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Hello Abdul Azeez Ibrahim,

The original sentence is in the present (avoid) and there is no reason to change this when forming the passive construction. Thus, the second option (avoids) is better.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Saeed Alnaqbi le ven 11/09/2020 - 09:04

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Hello, What would be the sentence if I change it to passive tense. 1. The science behind consumerism makes people buy things without thinking. 2. People buy things that they don't actually need. Thanks

Soumis par Kirk le ven 11/09/2020 - 14:48

En réponse à par Saeed Alnaqbi

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Hello Saeed Alnaqbi,

People are made to buy things without thinking by the science behind consumerism.

Things that they don't actually need are bought by people.

I would not recommend you use either of those sentences in the passive voice, however.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Rsb le jeu 10/09/2020 - 05:28

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The cake smells good. The car looks nice. Here, are *smell and look* stative verb as it is describing the state of the subject(cake and car)?

Hello Rsb,

Yes, those are stative verbs.

The most common types of stative verbs are as follows:

  • verbs of perception/sensation
  • verbs of cognition/emotion/attitude
  • verbs related to having or being
  • verbs related to location/position

Your sentences contain examples of verbs of perception/sensation.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Tea

Soumis par Rsb le mer 02/09/2020 - 15:07

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Sir, Quasi passive voice - looks like non living thing perform something. 1. "Train is coming" Is it quasi passive voice in active form ? And what is the passive voice of that sentence ? 2. "Train looks nice"- is it also quasi passive voice in active form? And what is the passive voice of that sentence? Pls let us know.

Soumis par Kirk le mer 02/09/2020 - 15:49

En réponse à par Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

Sentence 1 is simply an active verb in the present continuous, with 'train' as the subject. Since 'come' is an intransitive verb, there is no way to use it in the passive.

The verb 'looks' in sentence 2 is a link verb and therefore also has no passive form.

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the term 'quasi-passive'.

By the way, both of the sentences are not correct in standard British English -- an article such as 'a' or 'the' is needed before 'train': 'A train is coming' or 'The train looks nice'.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, How the train is supposed to perform the action as it is not a living being ? What types of sentences are they below where subject is not living being but still we presume that they are performing the action like human being. In British english, what we say that kind of sentences? 1. Battery will reach warehouse by 10th May. 2. The train is going. 3. The gates are closing.

Soumis par Peter M. le ven 04/09/2020 - 09:02

En réponse à par Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

It's entirely normal for an inanimate object to perform an action. It does not imply a decision or consciousness.

The wind blows.

The sun shines.

A volcano erupts.

 

Sometimes in English we describe inanimate objects as having their own will and power to decide on something. This is called anthropomorphism. For example:

My car refused to start this morning!

The computer won't open the file.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Quasi passive voice means inanimate objects are doing something? Are they an example of quasi passive voice in active form? The wind blows. The sun shines. A volcano erupts. My car refused to start this morning! The computer won't open the file. A train is going. The gates are closing. Do we have quasi passive voice in passive form too?

Soumis par Peter M. le lun 07/09/2020 - 07:38

En réponse à par Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

Those sentences are not passive in any way. The fact the subject is inanimate does not change the active voice nature of the verbs.

 

Quasi-passive is not a term that is used in traditional grammar study and it is not universally accepted by grammarians. It describes forms which are ambiguous in terms of whether they are a passive form or an adjectival (past participle) form. 

For example:

The window was broken.

This could be a passive construction (...by the boy) or simply be + adjective (...but it isn't any more). Some use the term quasi-passive to describe this; personally, I don't find it a useful concept.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, "It should be destroyed." Could this be a passive construction (...by the boy) or simply be + adjective?

Soumis par Peter M. le mar 08/09/2020 - 08:11

En réponse à par Rsb

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Hello again Rsb,

It could be either. It's impossible to say without knowing the context.

 

If you are talking about what you expect the current situation to be, then it would probably be an adjective:

It should be destroyed. (because there was an earthquake/because that was the plan etc)

 

On the other hand, if you are talking about the future and giving advice then it would be a passive form:

It should be destroyed. (before it's too late/while we are able/before it collapses)

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks again sir! The cake smells good. The car looks nice. Here smell and look are stative verb as it is describing the state of the subject(cake and car)? Am I thinking correct?

Soumis par Juliana Abrantes le mer 08/07/2020 - 19:09

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Hello. How can I write these sentences in the active voice? 1. A lot of coffee is grown in Brazil. 2. The world's highest mountains are found in the Himalayas. Can I say? 1. It grows a lot of coffee in Brazil. 2. It finds the world's highest mountains in the Himalayas. If yes, are these phrases often used? Thank you for the help!

Soumis par Peter M. le jeu 09/07/2020 - 07:25

En réponse à par Juliana Abrantes

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Hello Juliana,

No, you can't rephrase in that way. You need to introduce the implied subject:

People grow a lot of coffee in Brazil.

We find the world's highest mountains in the Himalayas.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par VegitoBlue le dim 28/06/2020 - 09:24

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Is "love" as in "I love this" a stative verb? Can a stative verb be transitive? In "I love this", is love a transitive verb and "this" the object of the transitive verb "love"?

Soumis par Kapil Kabir le jeu 25/06/2020 - 10:33

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Hello Sir, Sir I have a great confusion regarding the use of HOW word before an infinitive( specially the verbs after to like "learn, swim, know, teach etc.. ") For example 1) He don't know to swim. 2) He don't know how to swim. We know that the 1st one is incorrect and the 2nd one is correct. I want to know why we use "HOW" before an infinitive. What type of meaning does it convey. Please.

Hello Kapil Kabir

We use 'how' + infinitive to speak about skills. So you can say, for example, 'He knows how to cook', 'She knows how to swim', 'They know how to play billiards'.

Note that in your two sentences, 'don't' should be 'doesn't'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello lella123

As far as I can tell, 'hunter' is a noun and 'by' is a preposition used to indicate the agent. It'd be useful to see the whole sentence and its context.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Dukul le ven 29/05/2020 - 12:33

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Could you please explain how can I make this sentence "Trump exits press conference after being challenged by female reporters" into active? I am so confused

Hello Dukul

The first verb form ('exits') is already active; the second one ('being challenged') is passive. To make it active, the agent of the passive verb form ('female reporters') should become the subject of the verb: 'after female reporters challenged him'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Bharati le ven 15/05/2020 - 17:24

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Hello, On the website"Peter got hurt in a crash" is given as example of passive voice. What will be its active form? Hasn't "hurt"been used as Participle adjective here. Thanks

Soumis par Kapil Kabir le ven 15/05/2020 - 04:32

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Hello sir. I have a doubt, regarding the use of 'get' verb Sometimes it acts linking verb and sometimes it acts causative verb. For these examples 1) The father got his daughter married. 2) The father got his daughter marry. Which one is correct between these two sentences ? If we assume get as a causative verb it takes Bare infinitive according to that marry verb is right here. But I have discussed many teachers for that question they say that 'get' verb always follows a past participle. Please clarify this sir.

Hello Kapil Kabir,

The correct form here is the past participle. Get is never used with the bare infinitive in this way and get someone marry is not a correct formulation.

 

Causative verbs are followed by the past participle: get something done, have something done etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Kirk le ven 15/05/2020 - 13:31

En réponse à par Kapil Kabir

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Hello Kapil Kabir

Yes, in informal situations this is fine if 'get' means 'persuade' (see the fifth entry). In a less informal situation, you could say 'The father convinced his son to marry.'

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Ajmeer Safi le mar 21/04/2020 - 09:25

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Dear Sir, If you kindly write down in a sentence that why we use passive?

Hello Ajmeer Safi

Our Passives page explains this in some detail. Since I can't summarise it any better than what's there, please have a look. You're welcome to ask us any questions you may have there.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Mohammad Ghm le jeu 12/03/2020 - 06:54

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Hello I want to know what is difference between active and passive voice

Soumis par Peter M. le jeu 12/03/2020 - 08:21

En réponse à par Mohammad Ghm

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Hello Mohammad Ghm,

We can think of a sentence in which we have three elements:

  1. the person or thing doing the action (the subjet)
  2. the action (the verb)
  3. the person or thing who is acted upon (the object)

For example:

The dog bit the boy.

Here, our elements are

  1. the dog
  2. bit
  3. the boy

This is active voice.

 

We can change the sentence so that we start with the boy - the person or thing acted upon:

The boy was bitten (by the dog).

Now we have passive voice. The object of the original sentence (the dog) is used as the subject of the verb, using [be + past participle (was bitten)]. We can include the person or thing doing the action or we can omit it if we prefer.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Poonam80 le jeu 27/02/2020 - 13:29

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I want to know whether the following is acceptable in voice For grandfather John painted a fence.

Hello Poonam80,

I think the word order needs to be changed:

John painted a fence for his/my/your grandfather.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par chandana jayamaha le lun 13/01/2020 - 17:44

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Dear sir, I have a doubt when I create this active sentence. John fed his dog. Which sentence is correct? His dog was fed by John or The dog was fed by John.