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Recently I get to know the phrase "fill someone in". I am not sure the usage of the phrase in a passive voice sentence.

Is this correct?

What I was filled in today is that we are planning a big project!

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  • John filled me in on the details. -> Today, the details were filled in for me by John.
    – Greybeard
    Jun 2, 2020 at 18:17
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    Normally the passive promotes the direct object. Fill in is a phrasal verb (hence fill me in instead of *fill in me), and it's normally not transitive (unless it's literal: Fill in the hole/box). In its communicational sense it means to "fill in the blanks" -- update one's information on the state of a joint undertaking, while proceeding with it. So it's mostly concerned with the indirect object; if a direct object is needed, it takes about or on, and can be passivized with a stranded preposition. The last sentence is ungrammatical, but it'd be OK with in on instead of just in. Jun 2, 2020 at 19:34
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    @JohnLawler: I don't see how stranding the preposition could work here. Active: They filled me in on the plan. Passive: *The plan was filled in on . . . Jun 2, 2020 at 21:45
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    @TinfoilHat: No, you're right. The content phrase (on the plan) can't be passived. Only the indirect object - He was filled in on the plan. Note that the present tense is not a passive but a predicate adjective -- He's filled in on the plan means he's currently in a state of knowledge; it doesn't refer to an event. Jun 2, 2020 at 22:54
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    Without an indirect object, however, you can say they filled me in and I was filled in.
    – phoog
    Jun 3, 2020 at 3:41

2 Answers 2

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That's almost right, but the wording sounds a little clunky. It sounds like there might be an "about" missing, since "filled in" isn't a direct substitute of "told" in all cases. For example, "What did you tell him?" cannot be replaced by "What did you fill him in?" - it would have to be "What did you fill him in on?" or "What did you fill him in about?"

The phrasing "what I was filled in" is an odd-sounding subject for the sentence, it would be better to include "about" - What I was filled in about today is that we are planning a big project. Of course, that wording is a bit clunky as well, so you should probably just say:

I was filled in today that we are planning a big project.

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You need the phrasal-prepositional verb* fill in on here:

Active: The company filled me in on our plans for a big project.

Passive: I was filled in on our plans for a big project.

Your active version: What the company filled me in on today is that we are planning a big project!

Your passive version: What I was filled in on today is that we are planning a big project!

You could use the preposition about instead of on. But to follow filled in with a that-clause is not idiomatic usage. Here are examples from the Corpus of Contemporary American English:

filled [pronoun] in on (179)

filled [pronoun] in about (16)

filled [pronoun] in that (1)

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*See: Phrasal verbs and multi-word verbs

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