I have a pen.

How to make its "passive voice"? Actually, I was looking for this sentence on different sites, but I got an answer like

A pen is had by me.

When I got this answer I was shocked. I thought how it can be like this. It really confused me, and I got these remarks:

"I have a pen." is transitive.

"A pen is had [by me.]" is passive.
If "have" were not transitive, we couldn't make the passive transformation.

I have never ever read this passive sentence in my books. So, you are all respectfully requested to spell it out.

Thanks in advance.

  • 3
    It is technically grammatically correct to say A pen is had by me, it's just not something a native speaker would ever say. It would be slightly more idiomatic to say something like "A pen is owned" or "A pen is being held".
    – Era
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 15:52
  • 2
    Era is right: the sentence "a pen is had by me" is grammatically correct, but we very rarely use to have in a passive way. The only place you might normally see it is in the idiom "A good time was had by all", meaning "Everybody had a good time."
    – stangdon
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 16:00
  • @stangdon: Or indeed, as Bette Davis reputedly said of a "would-be competitor" actress: She’s the original good time that was had by all Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 17:06

3 Answers 3


We normally use the passive with verbs that express the idea of agency: something done to {someone or something} by {someone or something else}.

Have, in the sense of "to be in possession of", although transitive, does not involve a doing-to, and for that reason it does not lend itself to passive expression.

On the other hand:

He bought the book

can become

The book was bought by him.

He took the book. The book was taken by him.


Of course the way how we change active to passive voice must clearly tell what a subject does with an action verb in active to what/whom the action/object is done(for/to). 'Have' is transitive when it shows action of subject like in (I have a cup of tea.) But it becomes non changing transitive even answered for 'What?', means possessive verb but not action verb in (I have a pen.) Only the action verbs in affirmative sentences with an object(#) can make passive sentences as I know. For that 'I have a pen' does not have its passive form in common even with grammar. If Not, then 'I go to school.' into School is gone by me would be correct too grammatically.


Technically , "have" in the context means "to possess / to own". Hence, it would sound appropriate to make the passive voice as "A pen is possessed by me" or "A pen is owned by me". We can leave the words "possessed / owned by me" to make the sentences more suitable. However, from the grammatical point of view, "A pen is had by me" is correct..

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