I'm wondering whether the sentence I like eating rice has a passive form. I'm quoting from Advanced Grammar In Use:

Verbs which in the active are followed by an object consisting of a noun phrase and -ing clause usually have no passive. (The book lists some verbs and I see there's the verb like)

Does that mean the sentence has no passive form because it has a noun phrase eating rice? I believe eating is in gerund form because it precedes by the verb like and can be treated as a noun like when we say 'I like it'. Also, I don't know why the author says 'usually' and not 'always' is the author trying to say that there's possibility some sentences with this construction have the passive form?

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    Eating rice is liked [by me]. But what use is it to be able to construct such an ungainly utterance? Commented Nov 26, 2021 at 12:52
  • @FumbleFingers - would you agree that we tend to avoid passives, especially for first person verbs (I ... ), maybe because they sound pompous? . That is not to say that I have not heard 'managers' saying 'The updates will be done by me', or worse, and very common, 'by myself', when they can simply say 'I will do the updates'. Commented Nov 26, 2021 at 13:12
  • @MichaelHarvey: Yes, I do think ordinary people in relaxed colloquial contexts use passive forms far less than you'd expect, if you primarily learned English from written texts with a bias towards academic text. Unquestionably, "active voice" engages a listener/reader's attention more, and communicates more efficiently, in the vast majority of contexts. Which is just one more reason why I think lots of learners are being given a bum steer by teachers who keep encouraging them to waste time on pointless exercises like Convert "I like it" to a passive form. Commented Nov 26, 2021 at 13:31

1 Answer 1


You could say:

Rice is something I like to eat.


Rice is a food I like.

These are idiomatic and natural, and make 'rice' the subject of the sentence rather than the object. I'm not sure they can strictly be described as being in the passive voice, though. Unlike an example like "the bike was ridden by me", 'like' in these examples doesn't really convey an action that took place. They are more like a description of rice, with the fact that you like them as an attribute.

A similar example though would be easy to change:

  • Millions of people like rice
  • Rice is liked by millions of people

We just wouldn't say "rice is liked by me", it's clumsy if nothing else.

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    But are these really in the passive voice? Commented Nov 26, 2021 at 14:55

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