I would like to turn the following sentence into passive voice.

Most people think he was responsible for the problems.

What I infer from the sentence is that people still think so and the problems were experienced in the past.

First of all, I'd like ask if the first sentence is grammatically correct?

1.He is believed to was responsible for the problems.


2.He was believed to have been responsible for the problems.

3.He was believed to be responsible for the problems.

( can I stress the past tense "was" in the original tense by saying " he was believed to..." , if they make a sense )


Should I have to stick to present perfect or bare infinitive as follows but in this case I doubt they may not convey that problems were in the past.

4.He is believed to has been responsible for the problems.

5.He is believed to be responsible for the problems.

Could you compare these 5 sentences above in terms of meaning they convey please?

  • 2
    "He is believed to have been responsible for the problems."
    – MorganFR
    Dec 23, 2016 at 12:03
  • @MorganFR This should've been an Answer. Dec 23, 2016 at 17:13

2 Answers 2


The complement of believed in the usage in your question is either

--an infinitive-phrase with to at its head and the verb-to-be (to be, to have been) and its predicate complement:

He is believed to be responsible.

He is believed to have been responsible.


--the predicate complement with the verb-to-be omitted:

He is believed responsible.

  • What is the difference between them in terms of meaning then. In what circumstances you would prefer to use one to another? Imagine there is robbery .There is a suspect, but the police could not find out who did it yet..which one should I use in this case ?
    – Mrt
    Dec 23, 2016 at 17:49
  • The word that is confusing you here, believe it or not, is responsible, since responsibility has no temporal boundaries: if you were responsible for the crime last week, you remain responsible for it today. Replace "responsible" with a state that is temporary (e.g. happy, sick, angry) and the difference between "to be" and "to have been" will become clearer to you. to be refers to a present state. to have been refers to a past state. He is thought to have been angry. People think he was angry at some time in the past.
    – TimR
    Dec 24, 2016 at 12:09

Yes, the first sentence

Most people think he was responsible for the problems.

is completely correct grammatically, as is your analysis of its exact meaning.

This phrasing

He is believed to was responsible for the problems.

starts off well, but the grammar breaks down at the "was". It looks as though you stuck the beginning of one sentence onto the end of another (which most people do when learning a language -- I certainly did!).

The "to" is the first part of the infinitive form. So you have to complete it with an infinitive form. You can't use "was" or "has" because there is no "to was" or "to has". There's "to be", "to have", and "to have been"

So sentences 2, 3, and 5 are grammatical, but 4 suffers from the same kind of problem sentence 1 has: it needs an infinitive form (because of the "to") but doesn't have one. 1 has past ("was"), 4 has 3rd person present ("has").

If you change 4 to read "to have been", that's the passive-voice version.

  • Well I wrote " to has been" unintentionally actually but this is good because it sparked another question in mind that is there any situation in which we can write a sentence as "It is believed to has been..." - just because "it" is a singular pronoun.
    – Mrt
    Dec 23, 2016 at 17:39
  • No, the "to" forces you to take the infinitive path in this sentence too. The "it" controls the "is" and the "has", but adding the "to" makes it impossible not to use an infinitive form unless you don't use a verb at all (as here). The closest I can come to a sentence that has those words in that order is to insert words: "it is believed to be true that Joe has been walking out with Melinda". ["Walking out with" is a somewhat old-timey/quaint/countrified phrase meaning "dating"]
    – MMacD
    Dec 23, 2016 at 18:07

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