The earth is formed of layers.

Can I change this sentence into active?

Layers form the earth.

The Oxford advanced learner Dictionary says the word form is: " [T, often passive] to produce sth in a particular way or make it have a particular shape]" So I can't decide whether it is suitable to transform the phrase "formed of" into active verb.

  • In the second example, "Layers form the earth". After all, you didn't write "the layers" in the first one.
    – user3169
    Feb 15, 2017 at 6:37
  • Well, you can, but the result is not a verbal passive, but an adjectival passive. In "The earth is formed of layers", the word "formed" is an adjective, not a verb, hence it being called an 'adjectival passive'.
    – BillJ
    Feb 15, 2017 at 11:34
  • It would be like saying "layers of pasta form lasagna". It is grammatical, but it is a good example of when to use the passive. There is little reason to make the layers of pasta the subject of a transitive verb.
    – TimR
    Feb 15, 2017 at 11:51

1 Answer 1


Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: But I suggest you add what sort of layers.

For example:

  • "Discuss...how these materials...form the layers that make up the crust of the Earth." -Kentucky Coal Education
  • "Chocolate, meringue, and whipped cream form the layers of this tall, silky dessert." -Pinterest

Active voice is often used to emphasize the subject.

Using a vague subject such as "layers" sort of defeats the purpose of using active voice.

Thus, my suggestion to expand the subject.

Good luck!

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