I got a letter yesterday.

Get is a transitive verb. But if we want to transform the sentence into passive?

The letter was...received yesterday. Get has no passive voice (LDOCE).Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Get 1.receive, [T not in passive ],to be given or receive something.

Though there is a past participle (got,gotten),it doesn't necessarily mean that we can form passive voice (according to the dictionary ).

Are there other transitive verbs, which don't have passive voice? Is there a special term for them (to read more)?

  • Thirty-seven parking tickets were gotten by the scofflaw in a period of only sixty days. (AmE)
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 11:44
  • Thanks, then it might be British, right?
    – V.V.
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 12:07

1 Answer 1


In order to use the passive voice, we need the past participle of get. According to Wiktionary, get has two past participles

  1. got (chiefly British)
  2. gotten (North America, archaic in UK)

Further, Merriam-Webster and Cambridge Dictionaries Online refer to got (MW,CDO) and gotten (MW, COD) as past participles of get.

So to me, your sentence should be

The letter was gotten yesterday.

This is grammatical, but I would prefer received. I'm not sure why, but it sounds better.

Also, if we pretend that the word gotten does not exist, then I don't believe it is the case that the word get does not have a past participle. It does, it just happens to be the same word got. It does not have a different form. I understand that this might be a technical matter, but I brought it up anyway for illustrative purposes.

The same is true with read.

The book was read by the author.

I don't know if this has a name, but here is a list that might help you find other words that don't have a different past participle form.

  • Could you find me examples with reliable sources?
    – V.V.
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 8:31
  • What are you talking about? Please be specific.
    – Em.
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 8:32
  • I have LDOCE, paper edition, I added the information into my question
    – V.V.
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 8:41
  • I have updated my answer
    – Em.
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 9:00
  • Oh, I see what you are saying. I didn't know there existed a "passive form". From what I read, you need a "past participle" to construct the passive voice. I didn't know there was a "passive form". I will try to look into it.
    – Em.
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 10:28

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