Passive voice (Trpný rod)


The active voice: My grandfather       planted         this tree.

                                  subject        (T-transitive)    object

The passive voice: This tree          was planted     by   my grandfather.

                                subject                                            agent

Transitive verbs are followed by a direct object. (in the accusative case - 4.p.)

- write a letter, read a book ... trans.verbs

× to like, to have - nelze vytvořit trpnou větu

Intransitive verbs have no object (happen) or have an indirect object ( in the dative case- 3.p.) - to belong sb. - The car belongs to my sister.


If a verb is followed by a preposition, the preposition stays with it in the passive sentence:

E.g. rely on

  •       They relied on him. = He was relied on.
  •       They laughed at her. = She was laughed at.

Verb + 2 objects:

They handed        me          a note.

                         obj.ind.     obj.dir.

→ A note was handed to me.

→ I was handed a note.

Agent or no agent:

- it is not always necessary to include the agent in the passive sentence

a. Someone has stolen my bicycle. = My bicycle has been stolen. - There is no point in adding „by

                                                                                         someone“, because the agent is unknown

b. He was arrested. = by police, detective - The agent is obvious

    He was dismissed. = by his employer

c. They opened the door with the screwdriver. = The door was opened with a screwdriver. (by them)

    = the instrument is more important than the agent


  •       He was hit with a branch. = someone hit him with (-implies presence of a person) a branch .
  •       He was hit by a branch. = a branch hit him
  •       Miniskirts are worn again. = a generalised agent

You use the passive with „reporting verbs“:

      - say, expect, report, suppose, believe, understand, know... = to avoid impersonal subject „they“ or „people“

      e.g. People say(reporting verb) he is rich. = He is said to be rich.


a. we speak about services done for us by someone else

  •       We are having the bathroom painted. = Právě nám malují koupelnu.
  •       We have had new tiles put on the roof.
  •       Where did you have your hair cut?

b. The King had his head cut off. = we also speak about misfortune which happened to us caused by an unspecified person

      I have had my bike stolen.

!!!   He had his old dog shot. - Zastřelili mu starého psa. i Nechal zastřelit starého psa.                               


  1. expresses urgency: I must get my car serviced.
  2. In the end we got the wall painted. = we managed to do this ourselves !!!
  3. the imperative (rozkaz) : Get vaccinated before going abroad.

Make, let, hear, see, (help):

  • - active voice: They made him leave.
  • - passive voice: He was made to leave.

They let him leave. × He was allowed to leave.


  • The book reads well. Ta kniha se dobře čte.
  • The new Ford is selling badly.
  • There is a lot to see / to be seen.
    • × There is nothing to do. = I am bored.)
    •    There is nothing to be done. = no way of putting it right - už se to nedá napravit
  • - want, need, require:
    • The shirt needs washing / to be washed.


a. when we want to focus on the action rather than the agent:

      J.F.Kennedy assassinated in 1963.

b. for style reasons:

      When he came home, a detective arrested him.

                                        he was arrested.= pouze 1 podmět- the same subjects are preferred

c. in scientific report:

      The air is separated into hydrogen, oxygen...

d. you want to avoid naming a specific person:

      It´s been decided to reduce all salaries by 10 per cent.

  • A new shop was opened / has been opened.
  • There was a new shop opened.
  • New houses were /are built.
  • There are new houses being built.