I do not have any problem making sentences with verbs of perception, as I call them, when the sentences are in the active voice, for example:

I heard him say this.

I noticed her indulging in vulgar activities.

But, when it comes to passive voice with these verbs I feel a little confused as to the syntax. Should I say:

1. I heard these words spoken by the native speakers of English.


2. I heard these words being spoken by the native speakers of English.


3. I heard these words to be spoken by the native speakers of English.

Which is the most natural to the ears of a native speaker?

1 Answer 1


1 and 2 are correct.

The main verb in these sentences is "heard" and it is an active verb. You are looking at the subordinate clause.

I heard him say this → I heard this said by him / I heard this being said by him.

In both cases there is a participle phase, and these are two ways of forming a passive partiple phrase. The second one suggests that the person "I" was literally present when "him" spoke. The first suggests that "I" heard that it was said, but might not have heard the actual words.

Yes I was there on that day. I was in the room and I heard the declaration of war being read by the Prime Minister.

  • Great answer!!!!
    – user100323
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 6:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .