The impersonal passive is one of the most common forms of the passive used to express general opinion or belief, meaning, what most people think about a subject or situation. An example of this is: Most people think that when you get cold, you catch a cold. What we can do is replace the part Most people think with the verb to be + the past participle, It is said…


The simplest way to use the impersonal passive is to learn fixed phrases and use them to express everyone´s opinion or what people generally believe.

Useful phrases:

  • It is said that…
  • It is thought that…
  • It is stated that…
  • It is known that…
  • It is believed…


To bring the level up to B2+ and give a little more detail, we can add an adverb:

  • It is often said that…
  • It is normally thought that…
  • It is usually stated that…
  • It is widely known that…
  • It is almost always believed…


It is important to understand that the impersonal passive has two types and the word order is important. Subject + be+ participle + infinitive


Study the present in colour:

It is often said that English is important.

English is often said to be important.


It is understood that swimming is the most effective form of exercise.

Swimming is understood to be the most effective form of exercise.


Study the past in colour:

It is often said that English was important.

English is often said to have been important.


In the past, we use the INFINITIVE + PARTICIPLE:

It is known that the internet was a ground-breaking invention.

The internet is known to have been a ground-breaking invention.


The impersonal passive is an excellent way to begin the discussion of the topic as it gives us a context from which we can either agree or disagree.


We have provided some discussion questions so that you can practice in our user friendly chat rooms.

  1. Is it believed that your local food is the best in the world?
  2. Is it normally said that exercise is a great way to unwind?
  3. Is it widely known that learning a language opens your mind?
  4. Is it usually agreed that people need to be in a relationship to be happy?
  5. Is it normally thought that money can buy you more free time?


Practice now with friends on our site and achieve your language learning goals.



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