What is the meaning of the structure are said in the following phrase:

Over 1m uighurs are said to be interned in the camps

Is this phrase a passive sentence?

  • 2
    What exactly are you asking? Do you realise that "are said to be interned" isn't actually a sentence? It's just a verb phrase, that requires a subject, as in The terrorist bombers are said to be interned [in Guantanamo Bay]. Meaning [some] people say they are interned in Guantanamo Bay (but with the implication that what they say might not in fact be true).There's also a special technical usage involving intern and derivatives, but do you really want to get into that? Jan 8, 2019 at 16:00
  • Which sentence is here (are said) is used? I mean to be interned is a passive infinitive. Jan 8, 2019 at 16:19

2 Answers 2


"They are said to be interned" is a passive sentence. It means "(somebody) says that they are interned."

"Are said to be interned" is not a complete sentence.

  • It is written in a newspaper that (over 1m uighurs are said to be interned in the camps Jan 8, 2019 at 16:16

Yes, it's in the passive voice. It's a common way to mention reported speech, or second-hand information:

She is said to be fluent in five languages (= "people" say she is fluent in five languages)

The country is said to be very nice in the summer (= "people" say that the country is very nice in the summer)

In your example, the reporter uses this phrase to talk about some fact that he or she has only heard about second-hand, but can not personally verify.

Although we have not spoken to any of them directly, the company's top executives are said to be unhappy with their CEO, and have petitioned the board of directors to replace her.

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