Voice is that form of the verb which is used to define the relationship between action and the participants of actions (subject, object). When the subject is the sentence is an agent or doer of the action, the verb is in the Active Voice but when the subject is being acted upon, the verb is said to be in the Passive Voice.
Example: Sita Takes Tea (Active form because subject is doing something)
Tea is taken by Sita (Passive form)
Rules of Active Passive Voice
Important Rules on Active Passive Voice
Active: They will do the work
Passive: The work will be done by them.
- When the person doing the action is the subject, we use an Active verb. But when the subject is what the action is pointed at, then we use a passive verb.
As in the above example, ACTIVE sentence is the one where the person (THEY) is also the subject of the sentence.
While PASSIVE sentence is the one, where the subject is the action showing word (WORK).
NOTE: However, the sentences only with transitive verb (verb with object) can be changed into PASSIVE VOICE.
For Example, Active: The man is running.
Passive: Not Possible as the object after verb (Running) is missing.
To Recognize the Active & Passive Sentence easily ask these question.
- What is the action/verb in this sentence?
- What/who is the subject of this sentence?
- Is the subject of the sentence PERFORMING the action/verb?
If the answer to the last question is YES, then the sentence is in the ACTIVE voice. If the answer to the last question is NO, then the sentence is in the PASSIVE voice.
Active: SUBJECT + VERB + OBJECT
Passive: OBJECT (OF ACTIVE VOICE) + HELPING VERB (FORM OF VERB “BE”) + PAST PARTICIPLE OF TRANSITIVE VERB + BY + SUBJECT (if required).
NOTE: Sometime while converting sentence from Passive Voice to Active voice, the subject is missing.
Passive: The room was cleaned.
Active: Someone cleaned the room.
“BY SOMEONE” is missing from the Passive Sentence.
Conversion of Active to Passive Sentence in different Tenses
1. Present Simple Tense
Passive Voice: Object + is/am/are + Verb (3rd form) + by + Subject
Active voice: He sings a song.
- He does not sing a song.
- Does he sing a song?
Passive voice: A song is sung by him.
- A song is not sung by him.
- Is a song sung by him?
2. Past Simple Tense
Passive voice: Object + was/were + Verb (3rd form) + by + Subject
Active voice: I killed a snake
- I did not kill a snake.
- Did I kill a snake?
- A snake was killed by me.
- A snake was not killed by me.
- Was a snake killed by me?
3. Future Simple Tense
Passive Voice: Object + will/shall + be + Verb (3rd form) + by + Subject
- She will buy a car.
- She will not buy a car.
- Will she buy a car?
- A car will be bought by her.
- A car will not be bought by her.
- Will a car be bought by her?
4. Present Continuous Tense
Passive Voice: Object + is/am/are + being + Verb (3rd form) + by + Subject
- I am writing a letter
- I am not writing a letter.
- Am I writing a letter?
- A letter is being written by me.
- A letter is not being written by me.
- Is a letter being written by me?
5. Past Continuous Tense
Passive Voice: Object + was/were + being + Verb (3rd form) + by + Subject
- He was driving a car.
- He was not driving a car.
- Was he driving a car?
- A car was being driven by him.
- A car was not being driven by him.
- Was a car being driven by him?
6. Present Perfect Tense
Passive voice: Object + has/have + been + Verb (3rd form) + by + Subject
- She has finished her work
- She has not finished her work.
- Has she finished her work?
- Her work has been finished by her.
- Her work has not been finished by her.
- Has her work been finished by her?
7. Past Perfect Tense
Passive Voice: Object + had + been + Verb (3rd form) + by + Subject
- They had completed the assignment.
- They had not completed the assignment.
- Had they completed the assignment?
- The assignment had been completed by them.
- The assignment had not been complete by them.
- Had the assignment been completed by them?
8. Future Perfect Tense
Passive Voice: Object + shall/will + have + been + Verb (3rd form) + by + Subject
- You will have started the job.
- You will have not started the job.
- Will you have started the job?
- The job will have been started by you.
- The job will not have been started by you.
- Will the job have been started by you?
Important Points to Remember
- Future continuous & perfect continuous tenses do not form passive voice.
- Some verb cannot be passive like be, belong, exist, lack, resemble, seem, suit, have (= own).
- Tom has a guitar.
- The building seemed empty.
- Certain verb take fixed preposition after them that replaces the “by”. Such verb are – known to, surprised at/by, amazed at, astonished at, vexed at, annoyed with/at, contained in, decorated with, filled with, tired of, engulfed in. etc.
Active: The fire engulfed the building.
Passive: The building was engulfed in the fire.
- Some verb have two objects like give, send offer award etc. The sentence having these words have two possible passive forms.
Active: He gave me a book.
Passive 1: I was given a book by him.
Passive 2: A book was given to me by him.
We hope that the points in the above article would have built a strong base of the Usage of Verbs and would have cleared all the doubts regarding the topic.