When we put the following sentence into the passive voice, is the agent introduced by the preposition by, as it usually is with other verbs?

  • Active: Do you know her?
  • Passive : Is she known by you?
  • 2
    Shouldn't it be "known to you?". This would then be an exception to the usual rules for putting things into the passive. – Peter Shor Sep 23 '14 at 17:42
  • @peter yes sir you are right it should be 'known to....'. Active: I know him. passive: he is known to me. – user92268 Sep 23 '14 at 18:37
  • 2
    Known to and known by are different. By is the usual passive; known to is a predicate adjective known plus the governed preposition to. They amount to the same thing, but known to is a legal formulation, like let it be known to all. – John Lawler Sep 23 '14 at 20:01
  • I'd say yes. To me, "know to" only implies "have heard of". – JenSCDC Sep 29 '14 at 20:08

Active: "Do you know her?"

Passive : "Is she known to you?"

"by you" is used for more active verbs, for example:

"Did you paint that picture?"

"Was that picture painted by you?"

Knowing or not knowing is not an action but a state (in this case of a relationship).


Another approach/thought :

He is known by me. Suggest a more normal two-way relationship. But it would sound awkward and unnatural to a native speaker.

He is known to me. Suggests a two-way personal relationship. It sounds like I know him in the sense that I know President Obama.

  • By two-way personal, do you mean asymmetric? Obama is known to you, but I doubt that you're known to him. – Barmar Sep 24 '14 at 16:11

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