The passive sentence requires a verb that has an object (transitive verb). The intransitive verb does not take an object, so it does not allow the construction of a passive sentence. The following sentences show some verbs are both transitive and intransitive.
- Transitive: My father is reading the newspaper.
- Passive: The newspaper is being read by my father.
- Intransitive: My father is reading.
- Transitive: They laughed at me.
- Passive: I was laughed at (by them).
- Intransitive: They laughed.
Sometimes, it is necessary to name the one who did the action. Not doing so can make no sense to the passive sentence. The three sentences here appear incomplete, making them necessary to have the doers that are included in the following three sentences.
- The match was won.
- We were woken.
- That picture was drawn.
- The match was won by Liverpool.
- We were woken by thunder.
- That picture was drawn by my daughter.
Notices often make use of the passive voice.
- Guests are advised not to leave their belongings unattended.
- No visitors are allowed after 8 p.m.
- Smoking in the cinema is strictly prohibited.
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 … , or He is said to be ….. We can also use get instead of auxiliary verb be, especially in our everyday conversation.
- 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.
- 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.
- Not: He born with a rare skin disease.
- Not: The species doomed to extinction.