The attack happened on the Lisburn Road shortly after 23:00 GMT on Friday night, police said. BBC

Shouldn't the writer say: "The attack was happened" or "The attack has been happened"? Shouldn't he use the passive voice? I assume that because the attack happened by someone.

  • 1
    No. In English language things happen, in active voice.
    – Kreiri
    Feb 24, 2017 at 10:23
  • @Kreiri thank you, but why? is there any other words that we don't use with passive voice? any recommended resource please
    – Shannak
    Feb 24, 2017 at 10:30
  • 1
    "Happened" means "occurred". It isn't clear why you think "was" or "has been" is needed there. They totally don't belong, but WHY they don't belong might be explainable if you can clarify how you're thinking about this. I'm not following the passive voice issue. Can you elaborate?
    – fixer1234
    Feb 24, 2017 at 11:03
  • "She was attacked by him", we don't say: "She attacked by him". because the attack activity happened by someone else, it didn't happened by itself.
    – Shannak
    Feb 24, 2017 at 11:07
  • 1
    The way you're using "attack", it is the verb, the action in your sentence. In the quote in the question, "attack" is a noun (a reference to an event), and "happened" is the verb. The sentence doesn't say "a woman was attacked", it says "an event occurred".
    – fixer1234
    Feb 24, 2017 at 11:29

1 Answer 1


The comments are correct; this statement is correct as is and should not be in the passive voice.

We only use the passive for transitive verbs, ones with an object, where you can say "X verbs Y". For example

The cat eats the fish.
The fish is eaten by the cat.

But it doesn't work for intransitive verbs like happen or fall or smile, because they don't have objects:

The boy smiled. (no object)
Incorrect: The boy was smiled

"The boy was smiled" would mean that there was something else that performed the action of smiling on the boy, but the verb to smile doesn't work that way.

Likewise, to happen is intransitive:

The event happened. (no object)
Incorrect: The event was happened.

Happen simply means "to occur or to take place", and the event that happens is the subject, not the object.

Intransitive Verbs (Never Passive)

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