It is thought that stars emit X-ray.


Stars are thought to emit X-ray.

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    There's not much of a difference. – Blubberguy22 Jun 2 '16 at 13:51
  • The Sun was the first celestial object determined to give off X rays; rocket-borne radiation counters measured X-ray emissions from its corona (outer atmosphere) in 1949. That's from Encyclopædia Britannica, so I think we can safely say this is something which is known, rather than simply "believed". Note that in such contexts, emissions is normally pluralized. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 2 '16 at 14:18
  • @ FumbleFingers Thank you, I just made this up to ask my question, don't consider real facts out of it.so whats the difference between "It is said that stars have X-ray emission." and "Stars are said to have X-ray emission.". – Anfi Jun 2 '16 at 14:26
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    The version with "dummy It" is a little clunky. Also "have X-ray emission" would be better as a transitive verb: "Stars are believed to emit x-rays". Stars emit x-rays. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 2 '16 at 14:32
  • @Alireza: In case you're not aware, in contexts like yours, said would normally be understood as even more "tentative" than believed (i.e. - it often carries quite a strong implication that the writer and/or many other people don't believe the assertion). Thus The house is said to be haunted is usually a weaker assertion than It is believed to be haunted. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 2 '16 at 14:39

Off-hand I can't think of any context where it wouldn't be preferable to use thought rather than believed in OP's construction, but that's not central to the issue.

Converting to more likely assertions, consider these results from Google Books...

1: It is believed that Mars has (water, life, whatever) (7 hits)
2: Mars is believed to have... (716 hits)

There's no difference in meaning, but idiomatically / stylistically #1 is significantly less common, and may be perceived as rather stilted / verbose.

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    I agree that No. 1 could be less common, but not that significantly. The actual results of 716 hist show only 15 hits with a couple of overlaps if you click on the second page. Out of 15 hits, two have other subjects such as "early Mars", "the atmosphere of Mars", and seven don't indicate where the phrase appears on the book. The difference between the two becomes less significant when you Google "It is believed that they are" vs "They are believed to be". – user24743 Jun 2 '16 at 14:59
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    @Rathony: Define "significantly". I'd be prepared bet the preference is (almost?) always present for any given assertion capable of being expressed both ways. I also think it's "significant" that exactly the same bias will (again, almost certainly) exist regardless of the specific verb involved (said, thought, presumed, etc.). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 2 '16 at 15:08

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