People were killed by militants when they [People] were gathered for meeting.

Is using were gathered is makes above sentence passive voice?

If yes, then can we imagine that there is any agent/doer who gathered people?

As per my knowledge we need to use had gathered as first action is gathered and the killing.

Also, gathered is intransitive verb. So in above sentence does it conveys the meaning that people gathered there for meeting or the they were asked to gather by someone?

People were gathered for meeting by leader and then he started his speech.

  • ...for a meeting... – nnnnnn May 26 '16 at 3:40

"Gathered" is synonymous with "came together" or "met" or "assembled" or "congregated".

Had gathered would be appropriate if you wanted to stress the sequence of events:

After they had gathered for a meeting, they were killed by militants.

If you wanted to say that they were in a group when they were killed:

They were gathered for a meeting when they were killed by militants.

"they were gathered for a meeting... when ... " would not be interpreted as a passive construction—from context it would not be understood to mean "they were rounded up".

But if you wrote:

They were gathered together and then killed by militants.

then it would be understood to mean that they had been rounded up.

The clearly passive construction is "people were killed by militants".


2.2.4 Adjectival passives

The term ‘adjectival passive’ is often applied (perhaps not very felicitously) to active clauses with predicative adjective phrases in which the adjective derives from the past participle of a verb and has a passive-like meaning. There is frequently an ambiguity between be passives and adjectival ones. For example, The door was locked is ambiguous: as a be passive it says that at a particular time someone took the action of locking the door, and as an adjectival passive it says that during some past time period the door was in its locked state. Since the complement in this kind of clause is an adjective phrase, verbs other than be can be used (The door seemed locked, as far as I could tell), and so can adjectives derived with the negative prefix un- (The island was uninhabited by humans).

Geoffrey K. Pullum - Fear and Loathing of the English Passive

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