I'm unsure whether this sentence is active or passive voice.

I want to be there when the final match is played at Wimbledon.

When we marked it, the teacher said that it was passive voice, but isn't the subject ("I") doing the action, which makes it active? Can someone please explain?

  • 2
    It's not the matrix clause that is passive, but just the subordinate clause functioning as complement of "when", i.e. the final match is played at Wimbledon. It's a 'short passive' in that there is no internalised complement (by phrase). The subject of the subordinate passive clause is "The final match". "I" is subject of the matrix clause.
    – BillJ
    Jun 13, 2017 at 15:29

1 Answer 1


The main clause is active, for the subject (I) is doing the verb (want). The adverb clause, when the final match is played at Wimbledon, is passive, because the subject (match) is having the verb (play) done to it.

The teacher was looking only at the adverb clause, while you looked at the sentence as a whole, causing the disagreement.

  • 4
    Count the verbs. Every main verb is a different clause, and any transitive clause can be passivized. The teacher was careless to use a complex sentence and then ask whether it was passive or active. Sentences aren't passivized; clauses are passivized. Jun 13, 2017 at 14:23
  • You don't know for a fact that's what the teacher thought. I've seen far worse mistakes made by elem. school teachers. Jun 13, 2017 at 18:07
  • I assumed that since the teacher TEACHES the material, he knows it as well. However, it is true that some teachers—not only elementary school—do make terrible mistakes. Jun 13, 2017 at 20:36
  • 1
    Many English teachers have never studied the language; this is especially true for native English speakers teaching abroad. But even well-trained teachers can be taught nonsense if their teachers were taught the same nonsense. Jun 14, 2017 at 0:47

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