Consider the diffrence between the two sentences below:

Today's match has been cancelled. (Present Perfect)
(Meaning: Today's match is cancelled due to any reason. This would be just an information.)

Today's match has been cancelled by organiser. (Present Perfect but in passive)
(Meaning: Today's match is cancelled by organiser. It is in passive voice.)

In the first example I understand that the match was cancelled and in the second example I understand that the match was cancelled by the organiser.

Please explain and clarify it for me if I understand it incorrectly.

  • 2
    They're both passive. The only difference is that the second version in includes the Agent who performed the action. May 28, 2014 at 8:58

1 Answer 1


Both of these sentences are in passive voice.

To understand the active/passive contrast you must keep in mind that the semantic role and the syntactic role of the constituents are two different things.

In the active voice, the Agent (semantic role) of the verb, the entity which 'performs' the action, is represented by the subject (syntactic role) of the sentence, and the Patient (semantic role) of the verb, the entity which 'undergoes' the action, is represented by the direct object (syntactic role) of the sentence.

[SUBJECTThe organiserAGENT] [VERBhas cancelledVERB] [DIRECT OBJECTtoday's match organiserPatient].

(If you like, you can give distinct names to the verb's semantic and syntactic roles, but that doesn't enter into this matter.)

In the passive voice, the Patient is represented by the subject of the sentence; the verb is recast as a construction with BE + the past/passive participle; and the Agent may be either omitted or expressed as a preposition phrase headed by by. There is no direct object.

[SUBJECTToday's matchPATIENT] [VERBhas been cancelledVERB] optional:[PP[PREPOSITIONby][PrepOBJECTthe organiserAGENT].

The presence or absence of a constituent identifying the Agent does not affect the voice of the sentence: it is passive whether or not the Agent is explicitly named.

  • Thanks for Answer. but my question is if i use passive voice with out any agent. Does it change the meaning. just like it is cancelled. and not by someone.
    – user4084
    May 28, 2014 at 12:38
  • 2
    @user4084 It doesn't mean anything different, it just doesn't name the agent. It's equivalent to "Somebody (we're not interested in who) canceled the game". May 28, 2014 at 12:43
  • one more example "it has been very difficult me to go out after this incident". in this example we dont have any agent. but we can understand that it is very difficult for him to go out after incident.
    – user4084
    May 28, 2014 at 12:53
  • @user4084 1) That's not passive voice: be is the main verb, not an auxiliary. 2) We don't say It has been difficult me but It has been difficult for me. 3) This sentence is syntactically very complex; yes, there is an Agent of the verb go, but it the sentence of which it is subject has been subordinated to a main clause with a dummy subject and no agent. If you want to raise this as a separate question I will be happy to address it. May 28, 2014 at 13:06
  • As per my undersding in my first examples. Cancelled is used as adjective wich indicates match is cancelled by itself and the reason is rain and not by someone. hence agent has not been used.
    – user4084
    May 29, 2014 at 4:53

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