This question already has an answer here:

What should be the passive voice of below given sentence?

My father promised me a gift.

I am confused between these two options .

A gift was promised to me by my father.


I was promised a gift by my father.

To me both sentences convey the same meaning but if it is asked in exam and I have to choose between them then which one should I choose and why it is better than the other ?

marked as duplicate by snailcar May 28 '17 at 2:28

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.


Ouch! This is hard, because you are right: both mean the same thing, and both are reasonable answers. But exam authors are often not reasonable, as I saw in a recent question.

Here's my attempt to second-guess the exam author. Usually people who demand precise, exam-testable definitions of "passive voice" say that the direct object in the active voice becomes the subject in the passive voice. In "My father promised me a gift", gift is the direct object, and me is an indirect object (sometimes called a "dative" by analogy with Latin grammar). Notice that me becomes the object of the preposition to in your first alternative. So, the exam author will probably want the sentence where gift is the subject:

A gift was promised to me by my father.

There's no way to be 100% sure, though. Good luck!

  • I chose second sentence as my answer in exam and it was correct . I can't explain why but some how the second sentence sounded better. – user212388 May 24 '17 at 5:02
  • @user212388 Excellent! I (native AmE) also think the second sentence sounds better. I would have been afraid to trust that aesthetic judgement on an exam—I'm glad it worked for you! – Ben Kovitz May 24 '17 at 5:08
  • I am not a native speaker so not eloquent in expressing my views but let me try. The reason second sentence is better than the first may be that in the second sentence the doer ( promise - er ) is close to the action or followed by the activity which is done by him but in first sentence it's not so . ( TO ME comes in between ) – user212388 May 24 '17 at 5:24

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.