I came across a sentence from LongMan dictionary while I was looking up the word "fence", and the phrase example was: a structure made of wood, metal etc that surrounds a piece of land. my question is: why the sentence wouldn't be: a structure IS made of wood,... "is made of wood" instead of "made of wood" since we talk about passive voice?!! please explain to me that issue..

  • 1
    Dictionary definitions are shaped to match definendum syntactically, so as to be able to substitute for it in a sentence. Since the sense of fence here in question is as a simple noun, the addition of the verb is, so as to make this a complete passive-voice sentence, would be step in the wrong direction.
    – Brian Donovan
    Oct 8, 2016 at 15:57
  • It's not even clear to me that this is a passive construction.
    – deadrat
    Oct 8, 2016 at 19:05
  • If we were discussing a specific fence then we would say something like "The fence around the paddock is made of wood". However a dictionary definition is discussing fences in the abstract. In this case we either say "A fence is a structure made of wood, metal, etc" or "A fence is a structure which is made of wood, metal, etc"
    – BoldBen
    Oct 8, 2016 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


A fence is a structure made of wood means the same thing as

A fence is a wooden structure.

In the dictionary, you will look up the word fence and you will see

a wooden structure

The dictionary definition omits the word "is".

There's no passive voice here. "Made" is an adjective, formed from the past participle.

Let's look at the passive voice.

I made this birthday cake.

This birthday cake was made by me.

That last sentence uses the passive voice.

  • What I understood is that the header of the sentence was cashed, I mean this part "a fence is" and the rest of the sentence began from "a structure made of wood" thank you for your help even I didn't understand why this is not a passive voice anyway thank you all..
    – Zakaria
    Oct 9, 2016 at 21:41

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