Specific words within the English language are incredibly versatile. “Welcome” is one such word. However, with versatility comes confusion, such as whether it is correct to state that “All are welcomed.”
It is incorrect to say “All are welcomed” because it mixes present and past tenses, although it once experienced common usage as a figure of speech. Therefore, one should use the more common “All are welcome” to prevent confusion in one’s audience. For example, a host may tell his coworkers, “All are welcome to attend the potluck.”
This article will define “All are welcomed,” explain the reasoning behind Americans’ preference for “All are welcome,” and compare it to other passive voice phrases.
What Does “All Are Welcomed” Mean?
“Welcome” hails from the old English wilcuma, which takes the interjection form of the word, literally meaning “Welcome!” (source). From Old English, the term does not undergo much change, especially regarding its original meaning.
As a result, “welcome,” though seemingly complex, has always had a relatively uniform meaning.
Deriving from the roots willa, meaning pleasure, and cuma, meaning “guest,” the Old English noun “Wilcuma” has a literal meaning of “Welcome guest” (source). This meaning continues to remain the same today.
The fact that the definition has remained the same results in welcome not changing its fundamental meaning, regardless of the sentence. However, there are some nuances to the word that differ depending on the surrounding context.
How Do You Use “All Are Welcomed”?
The context of “All are welcomed” insinuates that “welcomed,” in this case, is functioning as a past participle adjective. So, in short, while “All are welcomed” is grammatically correct, English speakers do not commonly use it.
This causes confusion since it derives from the more common “All are welcome,” which results in the past participle “welcomed” being incorrect in use, though it is correct in grammar.
The fact that “All are welcome” is a past participle describing “all” and connected by a linking verb means “welcome” functions as a participle adjective (also known as a subject complement).
However, “welcome” as a past participle adjective changes the grammatical function of “all” in the sentence. “All” functions as an object of the action instead of a subject acting or having a stated condition.
Instead of an active voice structure that dictates that the sentence functions with a subject (purple), verb (red), and object (dark green), as in “I welcome you all,” the passive voice structure takes the form of an object, verb, and participle adjective (dark blue). For example:
- Active Structure: I welcome you all.
- Passive Structure: All are welcomed.
However, while the phrase is grammatically correct, the fact that it is passive makes the sentence naturally more challenging to understand and use (source). So how should one use it?
Using the Passive Voice for Emphasis
Because the passive phrase breaks the typical rule of sentence formation, one can use it to emphasize the object.
In this case, there is an emphasis on the fact that ALL are welcomed, while a more active phrase, such as “We welcome all,” communicates an emphasis on the one doing the welcoming (in this case, “we”). Some examples of this are below:
- Active: Someone stole your lunch.
- Passive: Your lunch was stolen.
- Active: The party at city hall welcomes everyone.
- Passive: All are welcomed to the party at city hall.
In each of these cases, the emphasis shifts. So, while one should not habitually incorporate passive language in their writing, “welcomed” as a passive participle can serve as a valid literary tool to direct the reader’s attention toward a point the writer wants to communicate expressly.
The same idea applies to other familiar phrases, as the article, Is It Correct to Say “You Will Be Missed” demonstrates.
When Can You Use “All Are Welcomed”?
When we use “welcomed” in “all are welcomed,” it functions as a past participle adjective. Therefore, “All are welcomed” technically communicates that a person or multiple persons are welcome. However, we do not say this; the colloquially correct phrase is “All are welcome.”
The fact that “welcomed” is a past participle means that someone extended the welcome in the past. Whether inviting everyone to an event or committing an action, the phrase passively communicates something that has already occurred or is currently happening (i.e., the welcoming).
This is ultimately why English speakers do not use “all are welcomed.” To use a past participle when referring to a present or future event is not naturally how one would use a past participle. For example:
- All are welcomed to try their best at the race next week.
This sentence seems strange because the race is in the future, yet the speaker uses a past participle. “Welcomed” and “are” are two different times. So, while this sentence is grammatically correct, it sounds strange because we paired a present verb with a past participle.
In What Context Can You Use “All Are Welcomed”?
One should also note the social and circumstantial context surrounding the use of the phrase. The most important thing to note is that “All are welcomed” often references a broad announcement rather than a personal invite.
If one were to use this phrase to address a specific person, then the broadness of this statement would be inappropriate for the context. So instead, one would say, “You are welcomed.”
Therefore, one can best use it when addressing crowds. Remember, however, that saying “All are welcome” is more appropriate in American English than “All are welcomed.”
Within a written medium, “All are welcome” better suits a flier that addresses all who read it than a personal invitation to a friend. As a common expression within marketing for events, one expects a broader, more public context.
Using “All Are Welcomed” in a Full Sentence
Even though “All are welcomed” and its more appropriate counterpart, “All are welcome,” limits themselves by being passive phrases, there are multiple ways to use them in a full sentence.
Alongside this, while “All are welcomed” can stand alone as a sentence, there are times when one can include a preposition to add more information.
“All are welcome” sounds more correct than “All are welcomed” because of verbal tense agreement. “Are” and “welcome” both function in the present or future tense and make more sense when writers use this form rather than “All are welcomed.”
- All are welcome to the chat room after today’s meeting.
The meeting is today, so the sentence sounds correct when the verb “are” agrees with “welcome,” as opposed to:
- All are welcomed to the chat room after today’s meeting.
In most cases, “All are welcome” can function as a tagline, acting as a sentence on its own to draw a reader in. Sometimes a writer may want to communicate something in greater detail about the invitation. Another example is “except.” One could rudely state,
- All are welcome to my birthday party, except those who don’t buy me a gift.
The example above can utilize a preposition to communicate an invited guest list easily by following it with a qualifying prepositional phrase.
One may substitute “all” with another synonym or a name to welcome a single person. The same is true for the “are” to-be verb. One could state:
- All were welcomed to participate in the class, but no one did.
This sentence is grammatically correct, even though the class happened in the past because the to-be verb and event are past tense and agree.
What Can You Use Instead of “All Are Welcomed”?
Sometimes, one may not want to use passive voice when inviting everyone to an event. One can use a host of different yet synonymous phrases when this is the case.
When converting a phrase to the active voice, one must communicate that a subject is performing the action. For “All are welcomed,” one should add a subject to the beginning of the sentence, move “all” to the end of the sentence so that it functions as an object, and replace “are” with “welcome” as the verb.
The result should look like the colloquially correct version of “All are welcomed”:
- I welcome all.
One can replace the subject and adjective with different placeholders, but the subject-verb-adjective format causes the phrase to function with an active voice.
As mentioned before, the writer can use completely separate phrases if the writer does not want to use “welcome” at all. Some include,
- All are invited.
- I invite everyone to come.
- I’d love it if everyone came.
- I’d love to see everyone there.
- I hope to see everyone there.
- All of you are welcome/invited.
- I’d like to extend an invitation to each of you.
When Not to Use “All Are Welcomed”
“All are welcomed,” though a correct pronoun + to be verb + subject complement pattern is not correct contextually. Americans just don’t use it. As such, refrain from using “all are welcomed” in any scenario.
One context in which using “All are welcome” is not ideal is generally in informal circumstances. While this does not necessarily apply to passive voice, this common expression holds formal connotations. The passive voice can contribute to the sense of formality because of the lengthiness of sentences in the passive voice.
Another common phrase that holds within it an intrinsic sense of formality is “You are cordially invited,” another sentence in the passive voice. You can read more about this phrase in Is It Correct to Say “You Are Cordially Invited”?
Another general rule for contexts in which one should typically avoid this phrase is in speeches or speech writing. Again, this rule applies especially to the passive voice.
Because the passive voice tends to be longer and more complex, speaking in the passive voice does not often allot proper time to comprehend what the speaker intends. Therefore, if one seeks to use “All are welcome,” one should reserve it for the written word or short announcements.
Polite Expressions in the Passive Voice
There are several polite expressions in the passive voice Americans use often. In fact, the passive voice is connected closely to that which is polite or formal in American culture. While this makes the voice inappropriate within certain contexts, knowing the passive voice’s style is helpful when choosing an expression to use.
“All are welcomed” is not a colloquially correct phrase, though it is grammatically correct. Americans prefer “All are welcome.”
With a plethora of polite expressions similar to “All are welcome,” it is beneficial to recognize a few examples to properly grasp this general rule for passive language. A few examples are:
- May I be excused?
- Could I be pardoned for a moment?
- You are invited.
These examples are popular expressions though they are in the passive voice. This is because placing a sentence in the structure of the passive is less direct and, therefore, more polite in English. One can quickly notice the difference once it is pointed out. For example:
- Active: I will grade your assignment this weekend.
- Passive: The assignments will be graded this weekend.
In the first sentence, the writer seems to direct the comment to the reader to create intimidation or judgment because the focus is on the reader. The second sentence makes the assignment itself the subject and feels much less direct and more private.
The speaker may use the passive voice to avoid sounding like they are casting blame. For example:
- Active: You broke my TV.
- Passive: My TV was broken by someone.
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
The first example is accusatory by stating that the reader is at fault. However, the second sentence is not concerned about who is responsible but is instead a recognition that the TV is broken, drawing the focus away from anyone in particular.
In short, it is clear that while “All are welcomed” is grammatically correct, it is incorrect in everyday speech, as Americans prefer: “All are welcome.”
While this phrase is somewhat limited by context due to being in the passive voice, it excels as a unique tool within one’s writing and is part of a more excellent repertoire for those seeking to take a more formal, polite approach to their writing.