I was studying about passive voice from some good websites but I am really confused with these two sentences.

From grammarbank; Active: People say he was working very hard. Passive : He is said to have been working very hard.

From grammaring; Active: They reported Vincent was staying in Paris at that time. Passive : Vincent was reported to be staying in Paris at that time.

My question is about passivization of Past Continuous part. One of them is have been Ving and an other is be Ving. Are both correct? And if it is, what is the rule.

  • 1
    You may have it backwards: The passive parts are "is said to" and "was reported to," not the bolded parts. For example, Passive: "It is said that he was working very hard." Bad English, but a correct dated use of passive voice. – Yosef Baskin Oct 19 '20 at 22:36
  • Don't try to study grammar from websites. They're full of nonsense. – John Lawler Oct 19 '20 at 22:44
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    If you wanted a past continuous passive of 'work' (to work can be transitive), it would be: "People said he was being worked very hard"; and "People said he had been being worked very hard". Of course, no one in their right mind would use the second of the two. But it works. Both, however, are passive. – Tuffy Oct 19 '20 at 23:36
  • In your examples, the subordinate clauses cannot be passivised. Note, that "People say he was working very hard" is active, but "say" is intransitive. – BillJ Oct 20 '20 at 12:44

The Passive rule can only apply to a transitive verb in a single clause.
If there are two verbs in a sentence, you can't make the whole sentence passive.
In each of the example sentences, there are two verbs:

  • People say he was working very hard
  • They reported Vincent was staying in Paris at that time

Say and report are transitive, so they can be passivized.
Work and stay are not transitive, so they can't be passivized.

This is why you shouldn't study grammar on the web.

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