Is there a difference between these two sentences?

A very long letter was written to him

He was written a very long letter

Thanks a lot!

  • This question falls into the pattern of "What is the difference between X & Y?" You may be interested in this post for advice about how you can improve such questions: ell.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/439/… Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 16:45
  • No difference in meaning, but the second one should include "TO". "He was written to a very ....."
    – Yunus
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 16:53
  • 3
    @yunus - No - that would mean that someone wrote him to a letter! Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 17:44
  • @KateBunting, Longman dictionary shows "write to", LETTER [intransitive, transitive] to put words in a letter to someone. And here is an example from the dictionary: "I’ve written to my MP, and to the city council."
    – Yunus
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 19:21
  • @yunus And those examples don't include the direct object "letter" because "write" is intransitive in that example. You're wrong, and Kate is right.
    – gotube
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 1:31

1 Answer 1


The ultimate meanings are approximately the same, even though the two sentences have been organized differently. Grammatically, "letter" is the object, "he/him" is the indirect object.

Both use the passive voice and obscure the identity of the writer. The clearest and most understandable phrasing is the active construction. "Bresson wrote him a very long letter." It's even tempting to say "You should prefer the active voice. Don't use the passive voice this way unless you have a compelling reason to do so". But in fact, understanding and applying the passive voice is necessary in many situation.

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