"The business is concerned about the trade war."

"The trade war is concerning to the business."

Are either of these sentences active or passive? I know in sentences like "He is " Or "The business is " that can be considered a subject complement so does active/passive apply here? Do active or passive sentences contain subject complements or does it have to be just Subject + Verb + Object to be active?


In general, the active voice, is a clause in which the subject does the verb.

Conversely, the passive voice, is a clause in which the object can be seen to be doing the verb. Essentially it is a way of moving around the emphasis of the sentence by changing the word order.

"The business is concerned about the trade war."

In particular, if we look at this sentence, it may be confusing upon first inspection. The verb is 'is', and it is being done by the business. Put another way, the concern is being felt by the business, not the trade war. Thus, the above clause is written in the active mood. There is, as far as I can see, no way to turn this clause into a natural sounding passive-voiced clause.

"The trade war is concerning to the business."

This clause is also in the active voice, as the trade war is doing the verb 'is' (to be). That is, the state of being (to be something) is being done by the trade war.

Often it is easier to spot when a clause is written in the passive or active voice, but when the verb 'to be' is employed, and the particular ways in which some sentences in English are constructed with 'to be', like above, which voice is being used can become less clear.

If you need further clarification, feel free to ask for it in the comments.


"The business is concerned about the trade war."

Subject: the business verb: to be (is) predicate: is concerned about [preposition] the [def. article] trade war [object].

Active. Not quite present perfect, but close. weak construction, in that it is stative (to be + adj)

"The trade war is concerning to the business."

Still stative, now the subject is the Trade War. To make it more active, you could say,

The trade war concerns the business

But do be mindful that this animates the Trade War, which is not a real thing, and this use of "concerns" could be interpreted to mean "involves" rather that "cause of fear or worry."

A more active version of the first example, with Business as the Subject:

The business fears the trade war

Or, a version which doesn't use the past tense of a verb as an adj.:

The business is wary/mindful of the trade war


A passive construction is one where the agent of an action is missing—or could be removed without effecting the essential meaning of the sentence:

The window was broken.

This doesn't say who actually broke the window.

The window was broken (by vandals).

This does identify vandals as the agent of the action breaking, however the construction of the sentence is still such that the focus remains on the window itself. The words the vandals could be dropped and it would still be understandable.

Vandals broke the window.

This is active, because the focus of the sentence is the vandals, the agent of the action, rather than the window, the target of the action.

As for your example sentences, let's look at the important pieces:

The business is concerned (about the trade war).

This is an active construction. The focus of the sentence is the business, which is the agent of the action (being concerned).

The trade war is concerning (to the business).

This is a passive construction. It takes the same form as the earlier passive sentence the window was broken (by vandals). The words to the business could be dropped and the sentence would remain understandable—while also missing an agent.

The trade war is the focus of the sentence but not the agent of any action (in this case, the action is being concerned and the agent of that action is the business).

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