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People say that Indica Indians of Peru were the first people to grow potatoes as a crop.

As I understand it, the passive tense is:

It's said that potatoes were first grown as a crop by the Indica Indians in Peru.

But why in this sentence we say 'were' - past simple, whereas in the following sentence:

The prince is believed to have been assassinated in his bedroom.

we use, 'have been' instead of 'was' assassinated.

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  • Because it happened in the past. – Hot Licks Oct 26 '19 at 20:19
  • Sorry, please see the edit. I rephrased my question @HotLicks – nopassport1 Oct 26 '19 at 20:35
  • You seem to be contrasting 2 very different usages. i.e. "said that" and "believed to be". Please clarify. – Cascabel Oct 26 '19 at 20:45
  • What's the difference? Sorry, I don't know – nopassport1 Oct 26 '19 at 20:47
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    You are looking at it purely from the passive voice POV; there is more going on here. These are 2 completely different usages. – Cascabel Oct 26 '19 at 20:48
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The difference between these sentences is that the first one has a dummy "it". But you don't need to use a dummy "it" to put the first sentence in the passive, and it's also possible to rephrase the second sentence with a dummy "it". Consider:

It's said that potatoes were first grown as a crop by the Indica Indians in Peru.
Potatoes are said to have been first grown as a crop by the Indica Indians in Peru.

It is believed that the prince was assassinated in his bedroom.
The prince is believed to have been assassinated in his bedroom.

The difference between "have been" and "were/was" comes from using the dummy "it".

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This is a complex sentence having one main clause and one dependent clause. Main clause with a transitive object is "People say". The next clau is "That India Indians of Peru were the first people" which lacks a transitive verb. The last part of the sentence is an infinitive verb group phrase (not a clause).

We can make the passive voice of only those sentences which have transitive verb(s). Thus, according to grammar, PV of the above will be "It is said that Indica Indians of Peru were the first to grow potatoes as a crop." That's all.

Now, your confusion with "to have + past participle". That is a totally different structure, like to grow; to be growing; to have grown, and to have been growing; having nothing to do with AV conversion to PV.

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  • It is believed that the prince has been assassinated in his bedroom. = The prince is believed to have been assassinated in his bedroom. It is different in structure from ":...Indica Indians...." – Ram Pillai Oct 27 '19 at 8:17

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