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Dan's in two places at once in this episode of BBC English Class. He's very active, even when he's describing passive reporting structures...

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English Class

This is Dan reporting...

Have you noticed that news reporters use phrases like: "It is believed that..." and "The suspect is known to be..."? Well, there's a name for these structures - they're called passive reporting structures - and Dan's going to tell us what we need to know, in 90 seconds!

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Good afternoon. This is Dan for BBC Learning English. Our top story this week: Passive reporting structures. Our correspondent Dan has more.

Thank you Dan. Yes, the situation here on the ground is changing fast – I have just 90 seconds to bring you up to speed, starting now. So, what do we know so far? It is known that there is a passive reporting structure. This structure is made using:

It + a passive reporting verb + that + a clause – which is part of a sentence.

This structure is used to report information in a formal style or to report facts - even when the information is less than factual.

Consider these:

I know that the sky is blue: this is just my opinion, but:

It is known that the sky is blue: this is a widely recognised fact.

The passive verb structure is most commonly used in the present form, while the verb which follows the 'that clause' can be in any tense. Consider these three examples:

It is hoped that he will be ok.

It is known that the criminal escaped.

It is thought that chocolate is delicious.

The structure hides the source of the information. This is because a) it is obvious b) the source is unimportant or is people in general, or c) the source is unknown.

There are a number of common verbs which are used with this structure including:

Believed, thought, estimated, assumed, expected, known and said.

Dan – I'm out of time, back to you in the studio.

Thank you Dan. It is hoped that you found this useful. For more information and a full transcript of everything that was said, please log on to bbclearningenglish.com

This is Dan for BBC Learning English, signing off.

Summary

Meaning and use

This structure is used to report information in a formal style or to report facts.

Passive structures hide the source of the information. This is because a) it is obvious b) the source is unimportant or is 'people in general', or c) the source is unknown.

Form

1) A passive reporting structure can take this form:

It + passive reporting verb + that-clause

For example:

  • It is known that the sky is blue
  • It is known that the criminal escaped
  • It is thought that chocolate is delicious

2) Dan didn't cover this in the video - but a passive reporting structure can also take this form:

Subject + passive reporting verb + to-infinitive

For example:

  • The sky is known to be blue
  • The criminal is known to have escaped
  • Chocolate is thought to be delicious

To do

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End of Session 1

That's it for this session. It's known that practice makes perfect, so why not visit our other pages which look at passives: here and here.

Next

Session 2 is News Review, our weekly look at the language in the news.

Pontos de gramática

  • Meaning and use

    This structure is used to report information in a formal way or to report facts.

    This structure hides the source of the information. This is because a) it is obvious b) the source is unimportant or is 'people in general', or c) the source is unknown.

    Form

    1) A passive reporting structure can take this form:

    It + passive reporting verb + that-clause

    For example:

    • It is known that the sky is blue
    • It is known that the criminal escaped
    • It is thought that chocolate is delicious

    2) Or it can take this form:

    Subject + passive reporting verb + to-infinitive

    For example:

    • The sky is known to be blue
    • The criminal is known to have escaped
    • Chocolate is thought to be delicious