On Quora this question seems to have a lot of wrong answers:

What is the passive voice of "She has all the things''?

When we put a phrase with a stative verb like "have" into the passive shouldn't we simply change it to some other verb?

  • All the things belong to her.
  • All the things are hers.
  • All the things are owned by her.

However, the answers on Quora indicate that the correct passive is "All the things are had by her" which is wrong in my opinion.

Some say that the passive isn't possible here, but I can't understand why they are saying it.

Another example.

  • She has some money.

Can be said in the passive like this:

  • Some money belongs to her.
  • Some money is owned by her.
  • As for "to be had", it's an idiom which has nothing to do with anything owned or possessed. It's someone that can or cannot be had.
    – Victor B.
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 4:15
  • 1
    All the things belong to her and All the things are hers are not passive.
    – user230
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 4:24
  • And not always is the verb "have" stative (have a bath/a walk/a ride/dinner/good time, etc.).
    – Victor B.
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 4:39
  • The inviolable formula for passivisation is: A v's B ==> B is v'd by A (with implied adjustments for irregular verbs). In the passivisation transformation, the agent, the recipient etc and the verb remain the same. (a) This does not guarantee that every verb will accept a passivisation transformation with every agent etc. *'A butterfly was become by the caterpillar.' (b) Switching verbs so as to be able to mimic passivisation by switching the subject may give results that are fine, but this process is not passivisation. Commented May 26, 2019 at 16:26

1 Answer 1


If you change the verb then you won't have the passive voice of that specific sentence. In fact you may not end up with a passive sentence at all:

  • All the things belong to her.
    • Neither passive nor active. There is no object
  • All the things are hers.
    • Neither passive nor active. "To be" is a linking verb and can't be converted to passive
  • All the things are owned by her.
    • Passive of "She owns all the things"

There's a formula (so to speak) to switching from active to passive. It can be used on any active sentence, but the resulting passive voice sentence is not always idiomatic (and it's sometimes so bad as to be unintelligible).

The sentence "all the things are had by her" is the passive voice equivalent of the sentence, but it is not idiomatic. In this case, it's this particular use of the verb that causes the problem but there are other reasons why the passive might not work.

However, I will note that there are other uses of "have" that are idiomatic in the passive, such as the cliché "a good time was had by all".

For more information on this, see the book On Voice in the English Verb.

  • Isn't the idiomatic expression you've mentioned usually (or always?) used in Simple Past referring to the event that has already ended?
    – Victor B.
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 5:27
  • Speaking of something that happens at a given place and time it would sooner be "A good time is being had by all", am I mistaken?
    – Victor B.
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 5:34
  • @Rompey It's probably more common using "was" but the present tense is OK in some contexts (such as in a caption for a picture). "A good time is being had by all" is something you'd say while it was still happening.
    – Laurel
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 5:36
  • Neither active, nor active? How can that be? "her" is the object, "all the things" is the subject. Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 5:51
  • It's not logical. "All this is his - He owns all this Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 5:52

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