Active and Passive Voice

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active and passive voice

Speaking good English is essential to your education and career, so now the question is How to learn spoken English? It is actually pretty simple, you need to focus on your basics like tenses, subject-verb agreement, active and passive voice and a few grammar rules. This blog covers the basics of active and passive voice which is an integral part of English grammar.

What is an Active and Passive voice?

When we talk about English grammar, verbs have five different properties – mood, tense, person and voice. In this blog, we will be covering the voice. The two grammatical voices are – active and passive voice. We generally prefer using active voice in sentences.

Active Voice

When we are using active voice in a sentence, there is a subject that is acting upon the verb. In simpler terms, the subject is performing the action in active voice. Sentences which are in the active voice are direct and very clear. Let us take some examples to understand it better –

The dog chased the cat.
The employee stocked the items.
Dogs adore babies.

All the three sentences have a very basic voice structure – subject, verb and object. If we look at the first one, then the subject dog is performing the action described by the verb chased on the object cat. Similarly, in the second and third sentence, the subjects – employee and dogs are performing the actions as described by the verbs – stocked and adored on the objects – items and babies respectively.

Passive Voice

On the other hand, when the subject is acted on by the verb, a sentence is in the passive voice. The passive voice is often built with a combined form of ‘to be’ plus the past participle of the verb. Doing this often typically introduces a preposition. That sounds much more complex than it is-it is actually very easy to detect a passive voice. Passive voice is subtler and weaker as compared to active voice. You should use passive voice when you wish to highlight the object. Let us take a look at a few examples –

The cat was chased by the dog.
The items were stocked by the employee.
Babies are adored by dogs.

If we look closely, the structure of the sentence has been reversed, in the active voice, the structure was – subject+verb+object, however, in case of passive voice it is – object+verb+subject. Another thing to notice is the change in verb, in the passive voice it is in the form – a form of ‘to be’ + past participle of the verb. Lastly, there is the addition of a preposition, in the above three cases – ‘by’.

Rules for Changing Active Voice to Passive Voice

It is very easy to change an active voice to a passive voice, you just need to follow the following rules :

  1. Firstly, you have to change the structure, so the object in active voice becomes the subject in passive voice.
  2. Secondly, you have to use the verb ‘to be’ in the same tense as the main verb in the active voice.
  3. Lastly, you have to use the past participle of the main verb.

Examples

Active: People drink champagne on New Year’s Eve.
Passive: Champagne is drunk on New Year’s Eve.

Active: They renovated the restaurant in 2010.
Passive: The restaurant was renovated in 2010.

Active: Surya painted the wall yesterday.
Passive: The wall was painted yesterday.

Passive Voice: Present

When the sentence is in the present tense, passive voice uses ‘is’ or ‘are’ with the past participle of the main verb. Passive voice present is used for –

  • Describing processes
  • General thoughts, beliefs or opinions.

Passive Voice: Past

In the case of past, passive voice uses ‘was’ or ‘were’ with the past participle of the main verb. It is used when:

  • We are talking about events in history or,
  • Crimes and accidents that took place.

Rules for Changing Passive Voice to Active Voice

Follow the following points to change passive voice in a sentence to active voice:

  1. First of all, you will have to find the agent in ‘by the’ or who or what is performing the action.
  2. Once you have identified who is performing the action, make that agent the subject of the sentence.
  3. You will then have to change the verb accordingly.

Examples

Passive: The book is being read by the class.
Active: The class is reading the book.

Passive: Results will be published in the next issue of the magazine.
Active: The editors will publish the results in the next issue of the magazine.

Passive: Mistakes were made.
Active: We made mistakes.

Note: In some cases, the agent won’t be mentioned, so you will have to confer it from context.

Exercises

Change the tense of the following sentences:

  1. I will never forget this experience.
  2. Mother made a cake yesterday.
  3. The girl was teased by the boy.
  4. The deer was being chased by the tiger.
  5. The police have caught the thief.
  6. Was her duty done by her?
  7. She has learned her lessons.
  8. A novel has been written by her.
  9. Have you finished the report?
  10. Scientists have discovered traces of ice on the surface.

Solutions

  1. This experience will never be forgotten by me.
  2. A cake was made by my mother yesterday.
  3. The boy teased the girl.
  4. The tiger was chasing the deer.
  5. The thief has been caught by the police.
  6. Did she do her duty?
  7. Her lessons have been learned by her.
  8. She has written a novel.
  9. Has the report been finished by you?
  10. Traces of ice have been discovered on the surface of Mars (by scientists)

Following these simple rules will help you improve your spoken English, other than this you should also focus on the tenses, determiners etc. you can take help from grammar books. Speaking grammatically correct English will definitely get you extra brownie points.

Visit Leverage Edu for more such interesting blogs and quizzes to test your knowledge of English grammar.

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