I looked up the passive voice of "Do not open the door." and got two answers which are:

  1. "Let not the door be opened."
  2. "Let the door not be opened."

However, I find both of them rather suspicious. I expected the answer to be "Let the door be not opened." because in english, we generally use "not" after an auxiliary verb. So, in this, is it a rule, or an exception, or something like that?

  • Akil, why do you think that everything can be written in the passive voice? Oct 1, 2020 at 18:33

2 Answers 2

  1. Let not the door be opened.
  2. Let the door not be opened.
  3. Let the door be not opened.

#1 sounds archaic or poetic.

#2 and #3 are both valid but have slightly different meanings.

#2 negates the verb “to be opened”.

#3 negates the adjective “opened”.

we generally use "not" after an auxiliary verb.

We normally place “not” after auxiliary “to do” or “to have” but before auxiliary “to be” to prevent the above change from happening.

  • @ThePhoton “Let object be verbed” is passive imperative. The subject (who will verb the object) is unknown.
    – StephenS
    Oct 1, 2020 at 20:23
  • I can see that for "let the door be opened", but when you invert it to say "do not let..." or "let not..." then it becomes an instruction to the person being spoken to not to allow other people to open the door.
    – The Photon
    Oct 1, 2020 at 20:26
  • @ThePhoton If we can negate active imperative (let’s not go), we should be able to negate passive imperative. Though I’d probably prefer #3, which is equivalent to “let the door be unopened”, to avoid needing to.
    – StephenS
    Oct 1, 2020 at 20:34

Passive versions of active expressions turn the subject into an object.

I ate the candy.

The candy was eaten by me.

Imperatives often have an implied subject of "you":

(You) do not open the door.


You do not open the door.

The door is not opened by you.

However the door is not opened by you loses its "imperativeness" and sounds like you are narrating someone's actions - which further sounds odd because it appears you're trying to read someone's mind. So, options to put the "imperativeness" back include

  • Using let in the sentence - let is a polite way to indicate an imperative. Let requires a subjunctive. This sounds mythical and archaic, don't use it in real conversation.

Let that the door not be opened by you.

  • Better - use a modal - modals are often "misused" to imply imperatives. Use should to be polite, may to be condescending/come off as talking to a child, will to be really demanding, or shall to be snobby and demanding.

The door should not be opened by you.

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