There is asentence which has confused me a lot.

Margarine category was recorded least.

Least recorded category was Margarine.

Which sentence is active and which is passive. I am facing difficulty in finding the mistake.

  • Minor grammar comment: this is a superlative (least) and so the definite article is required: The margarine category was recorded least and The least recorded category was Margarine. Both are correct, incidentally. The first sentence is actually a passive (be + Past Participle as main verb, no agent, patient promoted to subject), but the second one is not. It's just an equational sentence like The winner was Mat. The subject contains an complex adjective (least-recorded) that's formed from a past participle; but that doesn't make the sentence passive. – John Lawler Oct 1 at 15:39
  • @John Lawler..no agent and patient promoted to subject. What are these two terms? Patient? In my first sentence which is subject and which one is object. – Sudhir Sharma Oct 1 at 15:48
  • There is no object because the sentence is passive and passives don't have objects. "Agent" means the one who does something; "patient" means the one things are done to. In They recorded the Margarine category, they is the agent and the Margarine category is the patient. These are semantic relations, not grammatical ones like "subject" and "object". Passive doesn't change the semantic relations, just the grammatical ones. It changes the patient NP (normally the object) to subject, and usually omits the agent NP (because it's irrelevant or already known). – John Lawler Oct 1 at 15:53
  • What my teacher has taught me that we can change any active to passive and the basic rule is to change the place of subject with object. So how come a passive sentence can be used without an object . Its really confusing. – Sudhir Sharma Oct 1 at 15:57
  • 1
    Ok thanks sir...So can there be any active version of my first passive sentence? – Sudhir Sharma Oct 1 at 16:00

I'm a native UK English speaker and I have only a tentative idea, to me this is tricky.

My suggestion is reduce the two examples to the bare minimum:

X was recorded

we don't know by whom, call him Dave

X was recorded by Dave

That's passive, active would be

Dave recorded X

So your first sentence is passive. The second sentence "least recorded" is just an adjective describing the catgory, the actual verb is "was", reducing it:

The category was Margerine

That is like

Dave was tall

This is not passive. See this article for further discussion, under heading (3) in that article we have:

Understand the verb in a passive sentence. In a passive sentence, something happens to the subject. The verb is the action that happens. It begins with a "to be" verb (for example, "is," "was," "were," "has been," "will have been"), then a verb in a past tense.

In your example the "recorded" is not linked to the "was".

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