Passive of Reporting Verbs

Let’s revise how to use passive reporting structures.

Exam in Mind Level B1/B2

In informal language we often use impersonal expressions like:

  • People think (that)…
  • They say (that)…
  • They expect (that)…

In newspapers, reports and other more formal writing, this idea is often expressed with a structure based on a passive reporting verb. Passive structures hide the source of the information because it is obvious or the source is unimportant or unknown.

  • It is thought (that)…
  • It is said (that)…
  • It is expected (that)…

We can use the following passive reporting structures:

It + passive reporting verb + that-clause

  • It is known that the sky is blue
  • It is known that the criminal escaped
  • It is thought that chocolate is delicious.
  • It is known that my grandfather likes red wine.

Subject + passive reporting verb + to-infinitive

  • The sky is known to be blue.
  • The criminal is known to have escaped.
  • Chocolate is thought to be delicious.

With Present / Future reference:

  • The murderer is believed to be a local man.
  • The government is expected to announce some new measures to tackle the problem at a press conference later today.
  • It is estimated that unemployment will continue rising for another year or so.

With Past reference:

  • 350 people are now known to have died in last week’s earthquake.
  • Competition from online companies is believed to have beenthe main reason for its failure.
  • Half of the country is thought to have watched the football match.
  • It is understood that the prisoner escaped with the help of a prison guard.
  • The company is estimated to have lostabout $1 million last year.

Present and Past Continuous Infinitives are also used:

  • The Hollywood couple are reported to be divorcing.
  • The suspect is believed to have been dealing in drugs.

Passive infintives can also appear:

  • The high-speed railway line is hoped to be completed by early next year.
  • The poet is claimed to have been buried in the church.

The reporting verb can also be past:

  • It was only after his death that he was discovered to have been a spy for the FBI.

Examples of reporting verbs used in the passive voice and in passive reporting structures:

allege – стверджувати
to say that someone has done something illegal or wrong without giving proof

  • + (that) The two men allege (that) the police forced them to make false confessions.
  • + to-infinitive She is alleged to have been at the centre of an international drug ring.
  • + that It was alleged that Johnson had struck Mr Brown on the head.

assume – припустити
to accept something to be true without question or proof

  • It is generally assumed that stress is caused by too much work.
  • I assumed things had gone well for him as he had a big grin on his face.
  • I assumed (that) you knew each other because you went to the same school.

believe – вірити
to think that something is true, correct or real

  • He believes that all children are born with equal intelligence.
  • It is generally believed that the greenhouse effect resulting from industrial activities destroys the natural environment.
  • Listening to and respecting your elders is deep-rooted in every culture of the world because it is believed that with age comes wisdom and experience.

claim – твердити
say something is true

  • They claim that the new drug normalizes blood pressure.
  • Critics claim the trucks are unsafe.
  • It is claimed that economic power is constrained by the competitive market.

consider – вважати
to think about something carefully, especially in order to make a decision

  • We consider ourselves extremely fortunate.
  • In some parts of the world, it is considered bad manners to pick up food or cutlery with the left hand.
  • He is considered to be the best realist painter in the world.

declare – заявляти
to say something officially or publicly

  • I declare the meeting closed.
  • All income must be declared.
  • Any suggestion that they might be the cause of problems is simply denied: it is declared that they could not be.

discover – відкривати
to find somebody/something that was hidden or that you did not expect to find; to find out about something; to find some information about something

  • He was later discovered to be seriously ill.
  • It would be fascinating to discover more about the town’s history.
  • Scientists around the world are working to discover a cure for AIDS.

estimate – обліковувати, підраховувати
to form an idea of the cost, size, value etc. of something, but without calculating it exactly

  • We estimated (that) it would cost about €5 000.
  • It is estimated that the project will last four years.
  • It is hard to estimate how many children have dyslexia.

expect – очікувати
to think or believe that something will happen or that somebody will do something

  • House prices are expected to rise sharply.
  • It is widely expected that interest rates will rise.
  • It is expected that the new owner will change the yacht’s name.

feel – сприймати
to think or believe that something is the case; to have a particular opinion or attitude

  • We’ve always felt this was our home.
  • We felt it to be unfortunate.
  • In the business world, it is felt that this is the degree of flexibility that is required.

find – виявляти
to discover that something is true after you have tried it, tested it or experienced it

  • study found that green tea could be beneficial.
  • It was found that her blood contained poison.
  • They found him to be charming.

intend – мати намір, спрямовувати
to have a plan, result or purpose in your mind when you do something

  • never intended to hurt you.
  • It is intended that production will start next month.
  • It is intended that these meetings will become a regular event.

know – знати
to have information in your mind as a result of experience or because you have learned or been told it

  • I know that people’s handwriting changes as they get older.
  • It is widely known that CFCs can damage the ozone layer.
  • It was known locally as a popular place for children to play.

observe – спостерігати
to watch somebody/something carefully, especially to learn more about them

  • The patients were observed over a period of several months.
  • It is observed that many animals do not breed when in captivity.
  • It was observed that 40 percent of patients had high blood pressure.

presume – припустити
to suppose that something is true, although you do not have actual proof

  • Little is known of the youngest son; it is presumed that he died young.
  • I presumed him to be her husband.
  • It was presumed that he prayed before he got into bed at night.

prove – доводити
to use facts, evidence, etc. to show that something is true

  • She continued to prove her worth to the team.
  • Can it be proved that he did commit these offences?
  • You’ve just proved yourself to be a liar.

report – звітувати, доповідати
give a spoken or written account of something that one has observed, heard, done, or investigated

  • It is reported that he never performed an operation without washing his hands.
  • It was reported that there would be a heavy rain in a day or two.
  • It has been reported that there are ways to trick the robots’ logic programming.

reveal – виявляти
to make something known to somebody

  • The identity of the buyer has not been revealed.
  • The report reveals that the company made a loss of £20 million last year. 
  • It was revealed that important evidence had been suppressed.

say – казати
see –
спостерігати, побачити
show –
suppose –
think –
understand –

Make up your own sentences with reporting verbs in passive reporting structures.

There is/are said to be

We can also use the same passive reporting structures with the pronoun there.

There + passive reporting verb + to-infinitive

There is said/believed/thought to be … = It is said/believed/thought that there is 

  • There are believed to be some ghosts in that house.(=Some ghosts are believed to be in that house. It is believed that there are some ghosts in that house.)
  • There are believed to be several points in his favor.
  • There is said to be a secret tunnel between them.
  • There are said to be new leads on the case.

Have Practice in Using Passive Reporting Structures

Task 1. Continue the second sentences with the words provided at the beginning.

  1. Many people think that smoking causes lung problems. – It is ________________
  2. Some people believe that students need to do regular homework. – It is ________________
  3. Many people maintain that social status is important for success. – It is ________________
  4. Many say that he is going to resign. – It is ________________
  5. They state that the cost was too high. – The cost ________________
  6. The weather forecasters have predicted that the weekend will be very hot. – It ________________
  7. Experts suggest that inflation will increase again this year. – Inflation ________________
  8. We had understood that Bill would be released the following day. – It ________________
  9. They think he will not come tomorrow. – It ________________
  10. Some people argue that she has been the winner. – It ________________

Task 2. Change the sentences into passive reporting structures.

Example: Police have reported that it was Peter who caused the accident.

  • It has been reported that it was Peter who caused the accident.
  • Peter has been reported to have caused the accident.
  1. A journalist reports that they are leaving Las Vegas tomorrow night. – It _________   They _________
  2. The lecturer thought that Columbus never realized that he had discovered America. – It ___________ Columbus _________
  3. Their parents thought that the teenagers were dancing at the disco. – It ___________ The teenagers __________
  4. Everybody thinks that she sings beautifully.
  5. The children reported that their friends were swimming when they disappeared.
  6. People believed that they had killed the animals during the night.
  7. My friends think that my parents are the best parents in the world.
  8. People are thinking that drugs are very dangerous.
  9. Everybody says that he settled the business.
  10. The reporters believed that the meeting would finish soon.
  11. They have thought the sportsmen are arriving today.
  12. Citizens presume that the government is responsible for the accident.
  13. The newspapers are reporting that the most outstanding athletes represent their country.
  14. The shareholders thought that the group had rejected the offer.
  15. People think that neither side wanted war. – Neither side is _________________
  16. People say that fewer than 1,000 blue whales survive in the southern hemisphere. Fewer _________________
  17. Everyone knows that eating fruit is good for you. – Eating fruit ___________________
  18. People consider that one in three bathing beaches is unfit for swimming. One in three bathing beaches __________________
  19. At least 130,000 dolphins are reported to be caught in the nets of tuna fishers every year. – It is ___________________
  20. They felt that the cost was too high.
  21. Forecasters have predicted that the weekend will be very cold.
  22. They don’t think that the government will call an early election.
  23. Experts are suggesting that inflation will remain steady.
  24. We had understood that the hostages would be released yesterday.
  25. Officials have announced that the princess will leave hospital next week.

Task 3. Complete the sentences using passive reporting structures.

  1. Scientists are believed  to …
  2. The government is understood to …
  3. The Ukrainians are known to …
  4. It is expected that the PM …
  5. The actress is said to …
  6. It is hoped that the economy …
  7. The painting was thought to …
  8. Scotland is considered to …
  9. Temperatures are reported to …
  10. 15 million people were estimated to …

Task 4. Choose the correct variant.

1.It is _________ that Mr Rohmer would be willing to pay up to a million dollars for the business.

A. understand
B. understanding
C. understood

2. ______ believed to be the first time that a polar bear killed a zookeeper.

A. It is
B. We
C. We are

3. Which of these is NOT a reporting verb?

A. Think
B. Estimate
C. Hope
D. Report
E. Translate
F. Assume

4. The convict _________ to be dangerous.

A. is known
B. knows
C. knew

5. Dan is known _________ very active.

A. that he is
B. to be
C. being

Task 5. Make passive reporting structures starting with the words in italics.

  1. It is felt that the project is too expensive.
  2. It was said that the tax changes helped poorer people.
  3. It is alleged that a fight between rival fans broke out after the match.
  4. It has been reported that more bad weather is on the way.
  5. It was believed that the company were about to announce redundancies.
  6. It was later considered that his behaviour had been unacceptable.
  7. It is expected that new supplies will arrive soon.
  8. It had been claimed that the drug was perfectly safe.
  9. It is presumed that everybody escaped unharmed from the wreckage.
  10. It is now thought that the number of injured is lower than was feared.

Task 6.

A. Use the six forms of the to-infinitive of the verb do.

  1. We need __________ it immediately. (standard)
  2. She appears __________ it right now. (continuous)
  3. He seems __________ it already. (perfect)
  4. We seem __________ it for hours. (perfect continuous)
  5. It needs __________ before the end of the week. (passive)
  6. It appears __________ rather well. (passive perfect)

B. Use a suitable verb in the appropriate form of the infinitive. Each infinitive is in a different form.

announce   ·   publish   ·   consider   ·   arrest   ·   hide   ·   escape

  1. The minister is expected  __________ his resignation tomorrow.
  2. The government are understood __________ an early election.
  3. They are thought __________ in a deserted cottage.
  4. The couple had earlier been believed __________ from police custody.
  5. The results of the survey are expected __________ next week.
  6. Two people are reported __________ in connection with the robbery.

Task 7. Rewrite the sentences starting with It plus a passive structure. Pay attention to tense.

  1. They felt that the cost was too high.
  2. Forecasters have predicted that the weekend will be very cold.
  3. They don’t think that the government will call an early election.
  4. Experts are suggesting that inflation will remain steady.
  5. We had understood that the hostages would be released yesterday.
  6. Officials have announced that the princess will leave hospital next week.

Task 8. Make passive sentences starting with There is … or There are … using the reporting verb in brackets in the tense given, plus a standard or perfect infinitive of be as instructed, plus the phrase given.

  1. many species still undiscovered (think – present simple) – standard
  2. considerable support for the idea (understand – present simple) – standard
  3. any need to act immediately (not feel – past simple) – standard
  4. enough supplies to go round (presume – past simple) – standard
  5. a shortage of medicines (report – past simple) – perfect
  6. several reasons for the failure (say – present simple) – perfect

Task 9. Make sentences with passive reporting structures starting with the words in given in brackets.

  1. It is thought that there are more than 400 species of sharks. (There)
  2. Biologists say that sharks share a class with rays and skates. (Sharks)
  3. It is said that sharks have 5 to 15 rows of teeth in each jaw. (They)
  4. Experts estimate that sharks’ teeth fall out after only a week.(It)
  5. It is said to be one species that grows to a length of 12 metres. (There)
  6. Experts believe that these whale sharks can live for more than 100 years.(It)
  7. It was reported that there had been 118 shark attacks in 2011. (There)
  8. Experts consider that the danger has been exaggerated (The danger)
  9. They consider that only ten shark species are dangerous to humans. (Only)
  10. They say that humans are a greater threat to sharks than vice versa. (Humans)