I have a doubt in passive voice question forms

Who did this mistake? (Active voice)

By whom was this mistake done? (Passive voice)

When did this happen? (Active voice)

By when was this happened? (Passive voice)

These above examples of passive voice question forms (by me) are right or not?

Does this "By ****" usage apply to all question forms? Eg. "How", "Where", etc.,

Please help me. Thanks in advance.


2 Answers 2


Firstly, the first question in active voice is already grammatically incorrect to start off with since the correct verb to use with ‘mistake’ should be ‘make’ instead of ‘do’. Link to video explaining the use of verbs with ‘mistake’. There is a transcript provided in the description of the video.

That aside, your conversion of the sentence into passive voice is grammatically correct but sounds stilted. I would recommend asking “Who was this mistake made by?” instead.

The second question is unable to be converted into passive voice. Link to a question regarding active and passive voice here on ELL. According to the accepted answer, sentences can only be converted into passive voice when transitive verbs (ones with objects) are present. It would commonly have the structure ‘X [verb] Y’. Transitive verbs are not present in your second sentence so it is not able to be converted into a passive voice sentence.

Here’s a handy trick to use when you’re confused about whether a question contains a transitive verb - Answer the question yourself.

For example, the answer to your first question could be “This person made this mistake.” In that sentence, ‘[t]his person’ is the ‘X’ or the subject and ‘mistake’ is the ‘Y’ or object. ‘[M]ade’ is the verb. You can visit this website if you have trouble identifying the subject and object in sentences.

In your second sentence however, if you try to answer the question yourself, you would probably get something along the lines of ‘This happened [time].’ In that case, ‘happened’ is the verb, ‘[t]his’ is the subject’, but there is no object. Therefore that question cannot be converted into a passive voice question.

Lastly, to answer your final question, that structure with ‘by’ definitely does not apply to all question forms. You would have to determine which structure to use on a case-by-case basis after determining whether the question can even be converted into passive voice from active voice.

This is a website that has examples of questions being converted from active to passive voice.

  • So we should say "It happened because of him" and not "It was happened by him"? (Or) can we say "It was happened" if the sentence has "by him" in the end?
    – Raj 33
    Dec 16, 2017 at 5:07
  • “It happened because of him” is the only correct one out of the sentences that you listed. ‘Happen’ is not a transitive verb and cannot be used in passive voice sentences. For example, you can say “I went to the park” (active voice) but you cannot say “The park was went to by me” because there is no object in that sentence. Nothing actually happened to the park because of you. However, you can change “I watered the trees in the park” into “The trees in the park were watered by me” since ‘me’ is the subject and the ‘trees in the park’ is the object. The trees were watered because of you.
    – danielloid
    Dec 16, 2017 at 5:11
  • Your answer and all links really helped me a lot. Thank you so much. Please help me with the above doubt also.
    – Raj 33
    Dec 16, 2017 at 5:11
  • As in you cannot say ‘He happened it’ because he really don’t do anything to ‘it’ and ‘happened’ isn’t a transitive verb. In that sentence, you are the subject but there is no object.
    – danielloid
    Dec 16, 2017 at 5:13
  • Thanks for your answer. Now I'm clear about it. Thank you so much. Have a nice day.
    – Raj 33
    Dec 16, 2017 at 5:14

First example is good.

A verb cannot be expressed in passive voice if it doesn't have at least 1 object. Happen doesn't take an object, so it can't work in the passive.

Exception is the word lack - even though it takes an object it won't work in the passive. Reference.

I hit the car with a bat.

The car was hit with a bat by me.

I walked to the park.

The park was walked by me. (Does not work because to the park is not an object of walk.)

The dog was walked in the park by me. (Works when we use a sense of to walk that takes an object.)

As a workaround you can say "had happened."

By when had this happened?


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