“Voice is that form of a verb which shows whether what is denoted by the subject does something or has something done to it.” Active voice means that a sentence has a subject that acts upon its verb. Passive voice means that a subject is a recipient of a verb’s action. In English grammar, verbs have five properties: voice, mood, tense, person, and number; here, we are concerned with voice. The two grammatical voices are active and passive.
What is Active Voice?
When the subject of a sentence performs the verb’s action, we say that the sentence is in the active voice. Sentences in the active voice have a strong, direct, and clear tone. Here are some short and straightforward examples of active voice.
Example: Monkeys adore bananas.
The cashier counted the money.
The dog chased the squirrel.
What is Passive Voice?
A sentence is in the passive voice, on the other hand, when the subject is acted on by the verb. The passive voice is always constructed with a conjugated form of to be plus the verb’s past participle.
Example: Bananas are adored by monkeys.
The money was counted by the cashier.
The squirrel was chased by the dog.
Let’s take a closer look at the first pair of sentences, “Monkeys adore bananas” and “Bananas are adored by monkeys.” The active sentence consists of monkeys (subject) + adore (verb) + bananas (object). The passive sentence consists of bananas (object) + are adored (a form of to be plus the past participle adored) + by (preposition) + monkeys (subject). Making the sentence passive flipped the structure and necessitated the preposition by. In fact, all three of the transformed sentences above required the addition of by.
Active Voice vs. Passive Voice—Which Is Better?
There is no question that using the active voice conveys a strong, clear tone and that the passive voice is subtler and weaker.
When to use the passive voice
1.Reports of crimes or incidents with unknown perpetrators
Example: My car was stolen yesterday.
2. Scientific contexts
Example: The rat was placed into a T-shaped maze.
3. When you want to emphasize an action itself and the doer of the action is irrelevant or distracting:
Example: The president was sworn in on a cold January morning.
Notes: The object of the active verb becomes the subject of the passive verb. Therefore, sentences which do not have an object cannot be changed into the passive. The following sentences, for instance, cannot be changed into the passive because they do not have objects.
The old man sat in a corner. The child sleeps. The wind blows. The dog barks. The fire burns. He laughed aloud.
Simple Present tense
An Active sentence in the simple present tense has the following structure:
(Subject + first form of the verb + object)
A passive sentence in the simple present tense has the following structure:
(Object of the active sentence + is/am/are + past participle form of the verb + by + subject of the active sentence)
Changing an assertive sentence into the passive
Active: I write a letter.
Passive: A letter is written by me.
Active: I love my parents.
Passive: My parents are loved by me.
Active: We love our country.
Passive: Our country is loved by us.
Changing a negative sentence into the passive
Active: I do not write a letter.
Passive: A letter is not written by me.
Active: I do not write novels.
Passive: Novels are not written by me.
Active: He does not tease her.
Passive: She is not teased by him.
Changing an interrogative sentence into the passive
(Structure: Is/are/am + object of the active verb + past participle form of the verb + by + subject of the passive verb)
Active: Do you write a letter?
Passive: Is a letter written by you?
Active: Do you write stories?
Passive: Are stories written by you?
Active: Does she make candles?
Passive: Are candles made by her?
Active: Who does not obey you?
Passive: By whom are you not obeyed?
Active: Which newspaper do you read?
Passive: Which newspaper is read by you?
Active: Does she do her duty?
Passive: Is her duty done by her?
Rules for changing Active Voice into Passive Voice:
- Identify the subject, the verb and the object: SVO
- Change the object into subject
- Put the suitable helping verb or auxiliary verb. In case helping verb is given, use the same. But note that the helping verb given agrees with the object.
- Change the verb into past participle of the verb.
- Add the preposition “by”
- Change the subject into object.
We convert Active to Passive of the following tenses.
Present Simple Tense: Auxiliary verb used in Passive Voice- is/am/are
Example: He writes a letter.
A letter is written by him.
Present Continuous Tense: Auxiliary verb used in Passive Voice- is being/ are being/ am being
She is singing a song.
A song is being sung by her.
Present Perfect tense: Auxiliary verb used in Passive Voice- has been/have been
He has completed the work.
The work has been completed by him.
Past Simple tense: Auxiliary verb used in Passive Voice- was/were
He bought a car.
A car was bought by him.
Past continuous tense: Auxiliary verb used in Passive Voice- was being/were being
She was washing a shirt.
A shirt was being washed by her.
Past Perfect Tense: Auxiliary verb used in Passive Voice- Had been
They had won the game.
The game had been won by them.
Future Simple tense: Auxiliary verb used in Passive Voice- will be
She will write a poem.
A poem will be written by her.
Future Perfect tense: Auxiliary verb used in Passive Voice- will have been
He will have received the letter.
The letter will have been received by him.
It is uncommon to use the passive voice with the following tenses:
Present Perfect Continous;
Future Perfect Continous;
Past Perfect Continous.
Imperative Sentence :
If the given sentence in the active voice is in the imperative, to get the passive voice use ‘Let’. Hence
(Passive Voice = Let + Object + be + Past Participle)
Active Voice/Passive Voice
Help me/Let me be helped.
Sing a song/Let a song be sung.
Open the door/Let the door be opened.
Don’t eat this fruit/Let not this fruit be eaten.