The passive sentence requires a verb that has an object (transitive verb). The following sentences show some verbs are both transitive and intransitive. The intransitive verb does not take an object, so it does not allow the construction of a passive sentence.

Transitive: They laughed at me.

Intransitive: They laughed.

Transitive: My father was reading a newspaper.
Intransitive: My father was reading.


Sometimes, it is necessary to name the one who did the action. Not doing so can make no sense to the passive sentence.

  • The match was won.
  • My dog was knocked down.
  • His leg was bitten.

The three sentences appear incomplete making it necessary to name the doers.

  • The match was won by Liverpool.
  • My dog was knocked down by a bus.
  • His leg was bitten by a snake.


Notices often make use of the passive voice.

  • Guests are advised not to leave their belongings unattended.

We need to be sure of what we say. If we are not certain of our facts, we can exercise caution by using ‘It is said that … ‘, ‘He is said to be …. ‘.

  • It is said that sweets are the main culprits of obesity among children.
  • He is said to be the leader behind the kidnapping of the President’s son.
  • We can use get instead of auxiliary verb to be, especially in our everyday conversation.
  • I got cheated by the salesman (in place of I was cheated by the salesman).


Some verbs such as the reflexive verb are not used in the passive voice.

  • He would talk to himself when no one was around. (The word himself is a reflexive verb.)
  • Long hair really suits her. (Not: She is really suited by long hair.)


Some verbs are used more frequently in the passive than in the active.

  • He was born with a rare skin disease.
  • The species was doomed to extinction.