I read an article at grammarbank , and understood that when we want to make personal passive for all of tenses we use "is thought (seen,said,...)" or "are thought (Seen,said,.. )",

but after that, over on baladre.info, I saw question number 6,

"Someone saw him pick up the gun"

and the answer is "He was seen to pick up the arm" .

So I am confused. Is the answer to the question correct? Shouldn't it be changed to "He is seen to have pick up the gun"?

  • From the first link they provide this example of a sentence in the simple past passive voice * It’s said that he was rich in the past.* – Mari-Lou A Aug 16 '15 at 11:27
  • 1
    What is a "personal" passive? Both past and present tense passive sentences are grammatical. – curiousdannii Aug 16 '15 at 12:41

The article at Grammar Bank that you linked to is showing a pattern of making a special kind of sentence that uses the passive voice. But the passive voice can be used in many other ways, such as "He was seen to pick up the gun" (or, equivalently, "He was seen picking up the gun").

A sentence following the pattern shown in that article would be

He was believed to have picked up the gun.

The verb to see is rather different from the verbs being worked with in that particular article.


Completely different usage. "is thought" and "is said" to be something are about ongoing states, as in being rich, or being strange or being absent etc. Same as "is seen as" or "was thought of as".

"Was seen to (verb)" describes someone observing an incident, in this case, the picking up of a gun. With its pronounced use of the passive (which shifts emphasis away from the implied subject), it has the flavor of a witness report, as in a policeman reading from his notebook in court. It sounds more ponderous than "I saw".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.