This is something I heard in a party and would like to know the grammatically correct expression.

  1. If the bread has not reached you, raise your hands

  2. If the bread has not been reached you, raised your hands.

I think the second one is correct and is the correct passive form and the first one suggests that the bread itself was trying to reach you.

  • 1
    What makes you think one is correct and the other isn't? And what kind of situation are you trying to describe?
    – J.R.
    Nov 16, 2016 at 18:20
  • 1
    For future reference, "which is correct?", and similar questions, are not constructive, especially when all the options are grammatical. Please try to indicate clearly which grammar point confuses you (name it if possible) and also include what you are trying to convey.
    – Em.
    Nov 16, 2016 at 18:21
  • 1
    Next time, edit your question rather than reposting it. Nov 16, 2016 at 19:38
  • Neither of your sentences makes much sense without some context, and the second is ungrammatical. What do you mean by "bread"? A foodstuff, or (slang) money?
    – BillJ
    Nov 16, 2016 at 19:39

3 Answers 3


Your second sentence is not grammatical. The verb reach (to extend, to stretch, to deliver, etc) is (mono-)transitive, meaning it takes a direct object, which in your example would be "you".

The first sentence is correct, but not passive. Don't confuse active with volitional. Plenty of verbs are used with the active voice that don't imply the subject is doing the action of its own will.

Raindrops fell

The faucet leaked

The window broke

The cake baked

A passive sentence is one where the verb acts upon the subject. The bread isn't reached (the bread isn't in a fixed location and people are stretching out to get it), but you are reached (the bread is moving towards you).

The correct passive would be:

If you haven't been reached by the bread, raise your hands

But this is clunky and unlikely to be said. Instead something like:

If you haven't received the bread, raise your hands

might be said.


"Reach" can also mean "arrive at", and that's the meaning intended here. The first sentence would be correct.


If the bread has not reached you.

The above expression makes the inference that the bread (subject) is reaching (verb) you (i.e. someone is bringing it to you or it sprouted legs and is coming all by itself). This means the bread is being Active.

If the bread has not been reached you.

The correct form of this expression is:

If the bread has not been reached by you.

The above expression makes the inference that the bread (subject) is being reached (verb). So the bread just lays there and waits to be reached. This means the bread is Inactive and therefore it is Passive.

  • Although "to reach" can be an intransitive expression of position (meaning "to arrive"). For example, "If the package hasn't reached you by today, you should call the shipping company" The inference is that the package is in the process of being sent to you, and not that it is moving of its own volition :)
    – Andrew
    Nov 16, 2016 at 18:14
  • But the packing is still moving, thus activity is occurring. That's why I included someone is bringing it to you
    – Hank
    Nov 16, 2016 at 18:16
  • There is room for interpretation here that isn't being considered in this answer. For example, bread could be slang for money, rather than a loaf of bread. Also, the bread – whatever it is – needn't "sprout legs" to fit the context. For example, I might be trying to mail you some money, and I could well say something like, "If the bread has not reached you by now, it should arrive by tomorrow." That would be correct and grammatical.
    – J.R.
    Nov 16, 2016 at 18:18
  • @J.R. I'm confused as to exactly what the issue with my answer is. I could assume the OP was asking which one was correct, no? Although its tagged as passive-voice it wasn't specifically noted whether he was only looking for which one was the passive voice. "If the bread has not reached you by now, it should arrive by tomorrow." That is correct and grammatical but it is still Active, no? My attempt was to give the OP correct and grammatical versions of his post in both Active and Passive forms. My legs comment was just for humor. Money can sprout legs just ask easily as bread can ;)
    – Hank
    Nov 16, 2016 at 18:22
  • 1
    @Hank to be clear I wasn't criticizing your answer, just appending to it. As far as the tag, I find sometimes that users aren't clear about the difference between passive voice and transitive/intransitive verbs. I can't tell from the question which version of "reach" GeorgeV wants to use, and probably would ask for clarification before answering.
    – Andrew
    Nov 16, 2016 at 19:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .