Kasim was being pushed along by the crowd

In passive voice, what is the subject?

I think it is Kasaim as changing Kasim to 'They' for eg changes the verb to 'were'.

Am I wrong?

Sheena had been hit by a stray football in the playground.

Is Sheena the subject and stray football the object?


In active voice sentences, the grammatical subject is usually the "actor". The subject does the verb

The crowd pushed Kasim.

In passive sentences, the grammatical subject is the semantic object.

Kasim was pushed by the crowd.

In this passive sentence, "Kasim" is the grammatical subject, but not the semantic subject. In this sentence, "the crowd" is the actor, it is part of a special type of prepositional phrase "by the crowd" used in passive sentences to identify the actor. It isn't the direct object of the verb phrase. Passive sentences don't have a grammatical direct object.

Type Subject Verb phrase Direct object Prepositional phrases etc
Transitive active The crowd pushed Kasim into the stadium
Intransitive active The crowd pushed into the stadium
Passive Kasim was pushed by the crowd into the stadium

The direct object of the transitive active sentence is the subject of the equivalent passive sentence. The subject of the transitive active sentence appears in an optional prepositional phrase. The intransitive active sentence and the passive sentence have no grammatical direct object. The intransitive sentence has no passive form.

  • Thank you very much for that.
    – res
    Jul 23 at 12:43
  • Thank you very much for that. It is getting clearer. Could you also explain 'Passive sentences don't have a grammatical direct object'?
    – res
    Jul 23 at 12:49

Kasim was being pushed along by the crowd.

Yes, this is a passive-voice clause.  "Kasim" is the subject, "was being pushed" is the predicating phrase, and both "along" and "by the crowd" are adjuncts in the predicate.

Subject and object are grammatical roles.  There are also semantic roles involved in this sentence.  "Kasim" is the patient.  "The crowd" is the agent.  Having separate labels for grammatical and semantic roles makes discussing these transformations and relationships much easier and simpler.

The crowd was pushing Kasim along.

This is an active-voice clause.  Here, "the crowd" remains the agent, "Kasim" remains the patient, but the grammatical roles have changed.  "The crowd" is the subject and "Kasim" is the direct object.


Sheena had been hit by a stray football in the playground.

Again, we have a passive-voice clause.  The subject "Sheena" is a patient.  The object "a stray football" is an agent.  However, this isn't a direct object.  It's not an argument of the predicating phrase "has been hit".  Instead, it's merely the object of the preposition "by".  The same thing holds true in the first example, where the agent "the crowd" is a prepositional argument and merely part of an adjunct.

Active-voice paraphrasings are just as easy to find:

A stray football had hit Sheena in the playground.
A stray football in the playground had hit Sheena.


Some active voice clauses have two objects.

I gave John those books last year.

The subject "I" is the agent.  The indirect object "John" is the recipient.  The direct object "that book" is the patient.  Either one of these two objects could be the subject of a passive-voice clause:

Those books were given to John last year.
John was given those books last year.

Notice that there is a direct object in that second passive-voice clause.  Also notice that John remains the recipient, even though "John" is the indirect object of the active-voice clause, the object of a preposition in one of the passive-voice clauses, and the subject in the other passive-voice clause.

  • That was so so helpful. Thank you for the patience. After rude rebuttals, your answer is such a pleasure as it made things so clear. The internet research was.confusing me.
    – res
    Jul 25 at 8:16

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