my teacher said the sentence "i've been scared of..." is not considered a passive voice. but I can't understand why (not sure if she was right about it). on the one hand, we have the "subject + have + been + past participle". on the other hand, the preposition is "of" and you can't fit a "by phrase" anywhere in the sentence in a sensible way.

thanks in advance


Scared, in addition to being the past-tense and past-participle form of the verb scare, is also used as a "(de)participial adjective". This is an adjective that has the form of a participle, but which is not considered to be a true (verbal) participle.

One test to distinguish verbal participles from departicipial adjectives is to see if you can use the word "very" before the word. "Very" cannot modify verbs. It is possible to say "I've been very scared of…”, which indicates that it is at least possible that "scared" in your original sentence is an adjective and not a verb.

Furthermore, as you said, you can't add a "by phrase" to "I was scared of..." the way that you could with a real passive sentence.

So it looks like "I've been scared of..." has the same structure as a sentence like "I've been anxious about...", with the present perfect form of the copular verb be followed by an adjective.

  • thanks a lot, i've always been looking for a thorough explanation about this
    – user323595
    Nov 10 '18 at 0:10

"I've been scared of..." is present perfect tense. What your teacher is looking for is a sentence that examines/explains something that happened exclusively in the past.

They want to see "I was scared/terrified by...".

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