I could not see the input in the system which I downloaded from other system. It was an automated process once clicked on download button.

I Want to inform it to system admin. How could I say?

a) Input did not flow in the system.

b) Input was not flowed in the system.

Confusion here because I think we can not use passive voice because process is not involve any Agent. so according to me Sentence a) is correct. But can my sentence b) used as stative sentences. e.g. Input was not flowed in the system when he called. so I asked him to wait.


3 Answers 3


a) Input did not flow in the system.

b) Input was not flown in the system

I am not certain that your sentences make sense in computing terms but here we deal only with grammar. So, grammatically speaking:

a) Input did not flow in the system. Correct

b) Input was not flown in the system. Incorrect

There are two reasons why (b) is wrong:

  1. "to flow" is an intransitive verb so it cannot have a direct object. You cannot form a passive with an intransitive verb.

  2. As Mixolydian points out "flown" is the past participle of "to fly". The past participle of "to flow" is "flowed".

  • How to flow is intransitive?. *Input was flowed by admin into the system. We can construct passive voice
    – user4084
    Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 12:08
  • @user4084 - "Input was flowed " - I don't recognise that as correct grammar. Where did this sentence come from? Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 12:20
  • coursehero.com/file/p1c7kkt/…
    – user4084
    Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 13:42
  • 1
    It seems that "was flowed" is used in a purely scientific context. I still find it ungrammatical. I would use "was allowed to flow" - books.google.com/ngrams/… - If you insist on using it then say, "was flowed into the system", ugh! Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 15:57
  • This sludge was flowed into the river, polluting the water. Thousands of fish had perished in the river recently after this * and what about this *was flowed
    – user4084
    Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 16:00

Keep in mind, "flown" is not a form of "flow" - it is the past participle of "fly". Maybe you meant "Input was not flowing in the system" instead. Either this or your sentence a could work.

EDITED to add, since this question is still open a week later- like other people have said, "flow" is not normally used as a transitive verb. I saw that you linked to a paper that appears to be about a chemical experiment. It might be ok to say "water was flowed in" or "the experimenter flowed the water in" in that context, but it sounds very strange in everyday English. I am not sure the system admin would understand you if you said "Input was not flowed in the system." How about saying (as you described the situation), "I expected to see the input flowing in the system after I clicked the download button but I did not." ? "Flowing" makes sense since this sounds like it's supposed to be an ongoing process, and usually the "progressive" form of a verb is used in such a situation. "I expected to see the input flow..." would also work since the simple present tense is often used to describe an ongoing process.

I also still think sentence A or "Input was not flowing in the system" are grammatical choices that would get the point across.

(Side note: since this question is about grammar/syntax, it might be off-topic to discuss whether "input" makes sense to use - which I think I saw someone else also mention - but "data" might be a better word, depending on the context.)


Mixolydian is correct in saying that either could work, with the correction of verb choice. It's probably worth elaborating what the difference between the two is, where the passive voice comes into it, which would be better, and so on. In this example, the two expressions are effectively equivalent. However, they are not entirely equivalent, and in other situations the difference may matter.

The final part, "in the system", is consistent between the two and isn't involved in any difference. In both cases, it is simply providing a location for the activity described by the verb. As such, I won't refer to it in setting out the difference.

This leaves us considering the difference between "input did not flow" and "input was not flowing". These are two different ways of referring to things in the past. There are others - "input had not flowed", for example - but for now let's just think about those two.

They are both in the negative, which can confuse things a little. In the second case, it is clearly the negative of "input was flowing". In the first, however, it could be the negative of "input did flow" or "input flowed", which are different grammatical constructions that emphasise things differently. Really, you could negate "input flowed" as "input flowed not", but that would seem archaic; people will generally negate "input flowed" as "input did not flow". So let's look at the positives, so the negative isn't confusing things. This gives us:

1: "Input flowed"

2: "Input did flow"

3: "Input was flowing"

The first is the usual form of the simple past, or preterite. This simply describes an event happening in the past, with no further implication. The second is an alternative form of the simple past that is mostly used either for negation (as the usual way to negate the simple past is to do "did not" followed by the bare infinitive), but is also used for emphasis - if someone says "I think it didn't flow", you might respond "it did flow" to emphasise the contradiction.

The third is the past progressive, and in the sentence as you give it this has no practical difference from the other two forms. The simple past indicates that a given thing happened in the past (and that's an example of the simple past in itself), while the progressive indicates that it was happening (again, that's another example). The progressive aspect indicates an ongoing process, while the lack of the progressive aspect allows the possibility that it was a simple, atomic event rather than a process. Pretty much any action can be progressive or not, but where it matters that the action was ongoing you should use the progressive.

To illustrate with your example, if there were a single piece of input that didn't flow, it might be better to say that "that input did not flow into the system". If input in general were not flowing, it would be better to say that "input was not flowing into the system".

(You may notice I changed "in" to "into"; that may or may not be better, it depends on the details, but it would be what I would more expect to see. "In" implies that the input gets into the system, but then got stuck, while "into" suggests that the input never actually got in the system.)

You also mention the passive. In this case, neither is passive. "Flow" is intransitive. "In the system" is an adverbial phrase. Intransitive verbs cannot be passive. A passive constructions is where a transitive verb lacks a subject (though the subject may be supplied by an adverbial phrase). Thus "the bear was shot" moves what would normally be the object of a sentence to become the subject, uses an extra verb for which it is the subject, and uses the original verb as the object of the new phrase. "The bear was shot by John" is "John shot the bear" in passive voice, but we can leave off the adverbial phrase and leave the matter of who shot the bear ambiguous.

In the case of "flow", there is no object. "Was not flowing" is not a passive construction, but rather has the original subject of a present tense, the verb being "to flow", in a past progressive form. The present progressive would be "is flowing".

To give a simple rule (though as with all simple rules in English, I'm sure there will be exceptions), it's only the passive voice if there is something happening to something, but it is not stated (other than in an adverbial) who or what did that thing to it.


Your example sentence, with "when he called", clarifies matters somewhat. "Was not flowed" is not, in any case, correct grammar, so should not be used. However, give the "he called", putting the whole sentence overall in the past, and the question of when it flowed (or didn't) even further in the past, the past perfect is appropriate:

"Input had not flowed into the system when he called, so I asked him to wait."

  • Thought it was not passive voice . It can be stative . I mean not being updated / flown in the system
    – user4084
    Commented Feb 2, 2019 at 17:41
  • Can we say *Input Was not updated in the system by him *
    – user4084
    Commented Feb 2, 2019 at 17:56
  • 1
    @user4084 - to answer the question you posted in the previous comment - this sentence almost works. But I feel like you need a definite article - as in "The input" - because now it sounds like you're talking about a specific input that someone was supposed to update. What exactly do you mean when you say "input"? Input in general, one particular input, or several inputs?
    – Mixolydian
    Commented Feb 3, 2019 at 2:34
  • "2 Persons were killed in the accident" Is passive voice. Like can I say "Inputs were not flowed into the system". Or should I say "Input did not flow into the system"
    – user4084
    Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 10:03
  • Input was not flowed in the system when he called. so I asked him to wait. . If i elaborate my sentence than I think it is correct.
    – user4084
    Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 11:39

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