This article investigates a case of lexical restrictions on a voice construction, specifically Danish past-tense passives. Present-Day Danish has both a periphrastic and an inflectional passive construction, but in the past tense, most ablaut (strong) verbs cannot form the inflectional passive (e.g. ∗ \ast skreves ‘was written’, ∗ \ast bares ‘was carried’). Various explanations for these restrictions have been proposed in the literature, but their historical background has not been investigated in any detail. This article focusses on the passive restrictions in Late Modern Danish, using various sources mainly from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is shown that while lexical restrictions on the past-tense s -passive are already mentioned in eighteenth and nineteenth-century grammars, the grammaticality of the individual forms has changed; for instance, the now obsolete form skreves ‘was written’ is attested in several Late Modern Danish sources. Furthermore, the primary sources differ greatly with respect to their use of the passive in the past tense. I suggest that sociolinguistic variables, such as level of education and formality of the texts, must be taken into account when trying to explain the development of the Danish passive, and that the lexical restrictions on past-tense s -passives may in fact be a side effect of standardization in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.