The passive with reporting verbs
In news reports and formal writing, it is common to use the passive forms of reporting verbs. Using this resource allows us to give information when we don’t know for sure whether it is true or not, or when we want to distance ourselves from the source of the information.
Reporting verbs are verbs of saying or believing such as agree, announce, believe, claim, consider, expect, hope, know, report, say, suggest, think, understand, etc. And we can use their passive form for distancing in two different ways. Check the examples below:
- It is said that they are in Las Vegas.
- They are said to be in Las Vegas.
it is said that … + subject + verb
We can use the passive of a reporting verb in a sentence after an introductory it: It + passive reporting verb + (that) + clause (subject + verb)
- It is believed that the murderer is no longer in the country.
- It has been announced that they are going to cancel the tour.
- It has been suggested that the team can’t be trusted defensively.
- It was thought the building could collapse.
someone is said to + infinitive
When we use the passive form of a reporting verb after the real subject of sentence (and NOT after it), we need to use an infinitive after the passive of the reporting verb.
Someone is said to do
When the reported action is simultaneous to the reporting, we can use use: subject + passive reporting verb + to + infinitive.
- He is said to have the biggest private art collection in the country.
- They were believed to be secretly in love.
We can also use this form to refer to the future.
- She is expected to become a super star.
Someone is said to be doing
When the reported action is in progress simultaneously to the reporting, we can also use subject + passive reporting verb + to be + -ing (continuous infinitive) with dynamic verbs.
- They are thought to be living under strict protection.
Someone is said to have done
When the reported action is previous to the reporting (earlier in the past), we use subject + passive reporting verb + to have + past participle (perfect infinitive).
- She was thought to have left the previous week. (=she left before people thought about it)
- He is claimed to have hit another student. (=he hit another student first and people claimed he did it later)