Active and Passive Voice

Active and Passive Voice

You know that verb is an action word. The action can be either performed or experienced by the doer (Subject). The property of the verb which voice shows whether the subject
or experiences the action is called voice.
  • Verb is said to be in Active Voice, if the subject performs an action.

For Example;

Arnav ate an apple.
• Verb is said to be in Passive Voice, if the subject receives or experiences an action.
For example;
An apple was eaten by Arnav.

Use of Passive Voice

Sentences with the verbs in passive voice are used under certain situations.
These are:
• When the doer of an action needs not be mentioned.
For example;
The terrorists were trapped.
The flag was hoisted.
• When the recipient of an action needs to be emphasised.
For example; Pt. Nehru was sent to jail many times.
Sachin Tendulkar was awarded the ‘Bharat Ratna’.
• When Statement needs to be made impersonal.
For example;
The resolution was passed.
It is hoped that the new team will work hard,

Change of Voice

There are some basic rules which are to be followed when a sentence in active voice is
changed into a passive voice:
1. First, separate the sentence into Subject -Verb -Object format. For example;
The lion-killed -deer.
2. Next, interchange the positions of the subject and object keeping the verb at its
original place.
A deer-was-killed- the lion.
3. With ‘be’ form (is/am/are/was/were will be /shall be) according to the tense of the verb.
A deer – will be-killed- the lion.
4. Use the verb always in the past participle (third) form.
A deer (Subject) was (‘be’ form) killed (past participle) the lion. (object)
5. Use preposition by to connect the object to the sentence.
A deer (Subject) was (‘be’ form) killed (past participle) by (proposition) the lion. (object)
6. Continuous tense takes being in the passive form.
The lion is killing a deer.
Deer is being killed by lion.
7. Perfect tense (has, have had) takes been in the passive voice.
The lion has killed a deer.
A deer has been killed by the lion.
8. All modals (can, could, may might, must, should would, will, shall dare, need,used, to, ought to,) take be with them.
I may slap you.
You may be slapped by me.

Rules for changing the voice according to the tense.

• Present Indefinite: Passive subject + is/am/are V3, + agent (by+ passive object)
He writes a book. (Active voice)
A book is written by him. (Passive voice)
• Present Continuous: Passive subject + is/am/are+being + V3+ agent (by+passive object)
He is writing a book.  (Active voice)
A book is being written by him.  (Passive voice)
• Present Perfect: Passive subject+has/have + been+V3+ agent (by+passive object)
He has written a book. (Active voice)
A book has been written by him. (Passive voice)
Past Indefinite: Passive subject + was/were V3+ agent (by+passive object)
He wrote a book. (Active voice)
A book was written by him.(Passive voice)
Past Continuous: Passive subject + was/were +being+V3 +agent (by + passive object)
He was writing a book. (Active voice)
A book was being written by him.  (Passive voice)
Past Perfect: Passive subject + had been +V3 +agent (by + passive object)
He had written a book.  (Active voice)
A book had been written by him.  (Passive voice)
Future Indefinite: Passive subject + shall/will + be +V3 + agent (by + passive object)
He will write a book. (Active voice)
A book will be written by him.  (Passive voice)
Future Perfect: Passive subject + shall/will have+V3 + agent (by + passive object)
He will have written a book.  (Active voice)
A letter will have been written by him.  (Passive voice)

2. Passive form of Interrogative Sentences

We follow the same pattern as discussed above for different tenses. But, remember these
  • The question mark (?) remains as it is.
  • The helping verbs/question words remain at their place.
  • The auxiliary is/am/are/was/were is used in the passive structure.
  • The auxiliary verbs have or has/had is changed into has/have/had + been +participle of the verb.
  • ‘Who’ is changed into by whom in passive form.
1. Did they make the painting?  (Active voice)
    Was the painting made by them?    (Passive voice)
2. Had he made a painting?    (Active voice)
    Had a painting been made by him?    (Passive voice)
3. Will he make a painting?      (Active voice)
    Will a painting be made by him?    (Passive voice)

3. Passive form of verbs having two objects

When the verbs which take two objects after them in the active voice are changed to the passive voice, one of the objects becomes the subject in the passive form and the other is retained as object.
For example;
I gave her a dress. (Active voice)
Here ‘her‘ and ‘a dress‘ both are objects. So, the passive forms of the sentence are as follows:
A dress was given to her by me.  (Passive voice)
She was given a dress by me.

4. Passive form of prepositional verbs

If a verb in the active voice is followed by a preposition, it is retained in the passive form.
For example;
The boys laughed at the joker. (Active voice)
The Joker was laughed at by the boys.  (Passive voice)

5. Prepositions other than ‘by’ in the passive form

When a sentence has an object without preposition, then the object of the sentence is
made the subject in the passive form and the subject form is made the
passive form.
Thereafter, some prepositions are used with the object.
For example;
The news surprised me.  (Active voice)
I was surprised at the news.  (Passive voice)

6. Passive form of imperative sentences

When there is an object in the imperative sentence, we use ‘Let’ to change it. But, when there is no object, we use You are requested/advised/ordered to + V1.
For example;
Shut the doors.  (Active voice)
Let the doors be shut. (Passive voice)
Stand up.    (Active voice)
You are ordered to stand up. (Passive voice)

7. Passive form of sentences with infinitive

In sentences with the infinitive, to is changed into passive as follows:
1. I want to help Sohan.  (Active voice)
    I want Sohan to be helped by me.  (Passive voice)
2. It’s time to do the work.  (Active voice)
    It’s time for work to be done.  (Passive voice)

8. Sentences with two clauses

Sometimes, there are two clauses in a sentence. In that case, both the clauses are changed into passive form.
For example;
They asked Johan why he accepted the money. (Active voice)
Johan was asked why the money was accepted by him.  (Passive voice)
When the subject in the active voice is vague or unknown, we let it remain unexpressed in
the passive form.
For example;
No one has beaten my brother in chess.  (Active voice)
My brother has never been beaten in chess.  (Passive voice)
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