Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 3 – Episode 71 – Grammar – The Passive with Say, Know, Believe, Thought

Here’s another tough episode on how the passive works with these stative verbs. Again, I’ve gone over state verbs in the last two podcasts, so let’s hope you have an understanding of them already.

It + be + past participle (of believe, claim, expect, know, report, say, think) + that.

It is said that dogs can communicate.

It was claimed that the president knew about the situation.

We use the present of to be to talk about present beliefs and thoughts.

We use the past of to be to talk about past beliefs and thoughts.

Instead of using the impersonal pronoun it, we can use the structure:

Subject + be + past participle (plus the state verb) + to + infinitive/have + past participle.

Dolphins are said to be able to communicate.

The president was claimed to have known about the situation.

With this structure, we use to + infinitive to talk about things in the present, or things that are always true.

We use have + past participle to talk about past events.

Make complete sentences with the structures.

‘The Sun goes round the Earth’ — past belief.

  1. It was believed that the Sun went round the Earth.

‘The Earth is flat’ – past thought.

2. It __________________________________.

‘Natural Disasters are becoming more frequent.’ – present claim.

It ____________________________________.


Rewrite the sentences.

  1. They say that toads sense earthquakes.

Toads _______________________________________.

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