Here I am again.

Well, cutting to the chase: I was reading about linking verbs and saw an example: Opportunity is missed by most people, so one question arose: Are all statements in passive voice used with complements?

Check it:

  1. I sent a letter
  2. A letter was sent

In the first example, send is a transitive verb taking a direct object (letter).

In the second example, was is a linking verb, and sent is acting as an adjective.

So, I realized that no passive voice can be used with a direct object, does it mean that they are always used with subject complements, is it right?

  • 2
    Sorry, but I see sent as a verb. A closed door has an adjective. A door was closed has the passive verb phrase 'was closed.' If you do your best to avoid the passive voice, you will be doing yourself a favor. Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 22:40
  • @YosefBaskin - In some cases, passive voice is required, and I need to be ready for them, haha. However, I also found it weird, but someone said that they are called: Participle adjectives; I do think that they are used specially for passive voices, for they act exactly as an adjective.
    – A.Cool
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 22:46
  • 1
    In A letter was sent, 'was' is used as an auxiliary to effect the passive voice, not in its linking role (John was cold). Yes, sometimes there is ambiguity (The window was broken), but not in this case. And not with Opportunity is missed by most people (again a passive construction). Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 23:19
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    @Yosef Baskin The passive voice is vastly favourable to the active in some circumstances; advice to totally avoid it is poor. Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 23:24
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    @Haseo Your terminology confuses your ideas here. Passive constructions always have an auxiliary verb -- some form of be -- and that is always followed by the past participle of the verb (missed, sent ). These are not adjectives; these are verbs, because the passive construction is the last part of the auxiliary verb chain, and each auxiliary verb must be followed by a particular verb form. Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 0:24

1 Answer 1


In the sentence 'Opportunity is missed by most people', there is no linking verb. It is an example of a passive sentence. The active form of it is, 'Most people miss opportunity'. The verb is 'miss' and its passive equivalent is formed by the auxiliary is + past participle of 'miss'.

"A copular verb (also called linking verb) is a special kind of verb used to join an adjective or noun complement to a subject. Common examples are: be (is, am, are, was, were), appear, seem, look, sound, smell, taste, feel, become and get".

All participle forms (present or past participle) can act as adjectives when they modify nouns.

In the sentence 'A letter was sent', the verb is not 'was' alone. It is the verb phrase 'was sent' (the passive voice formed using the auxiliary was + Past participle of 'send').

Example: You prepared 10 letters. You sent 5 letters or Five letters were sent. You have five letters remaining.

Now you can classify as: Some are sent letters and others are remaining letters.

The verb 'are' here is a linking verb and 'sent' and 'remaining' are adjectives - the former past participle and the latter present participle.

Direct or indirect object can also be changed to subject of the passive sentences.

I gave you a letter. (Active Voice, you = I O, a letter =D O)

You were given a letter. -Passive.

A letter was given to you. -Passive.

  • 1
    I got your point, mahmud; I was actually confused about the pattern of the passive voice, I wasn't considering be + past participle to be acting as one verb, where to be is acting as an auxiliary and the past participle the main verb. This was confusing me; it can't be thought as a normal pattern since it follows a different one. Thank you :)
    – A.Cool
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 14:15

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