Active and Passive Voice

6 minute read
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 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 along with examples. There are active and passive voice exercises for you to brush up on your skills!

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 voices. We generally prefer using an active voice in sentences.

Source: Dr Jodie Salter

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 acting as an active voice. This is the definition of 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 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 sentences, the subjects – employees and dogs are performing the actions as described by the verbs – stocked and adored on the objects – items and babies respectively.

Source: English Resource Lab – Erlkis

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 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 the 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’.

Source: English
active passive voice
Examples of active and passive voice
active and passive voice
Examples of active and passive voice

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 :

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

Active and Passive Voice Examples

To get a better understanding of the above information, here are a few active and passive voice 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, the 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 the past, passive voice uses ‘was’ or ‘was’ 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 acting.
  2. Once you have identified who is acting, make that agent the subject of the sentence.
  3. You will then have to change the verb accordingly.


For the practical usage of the above information, here are a few active and passive voice 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.

Active and Passive Voice Exercises

To test yourself, try the following active and passive voice 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.


  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)


When is passive voice appropriate?

When the person who performed the action is unknown and the action rather than the subject is the main topic of the phrase, the passive voice is utilised.

How can we recognise a sentence in the passive voice?

To spot the passive voice in a sentence, consider what happened and who was in charge of causing it. It is a passive voice statement if the subject executing the activities either appears after the action has occurred or is missing.

What is an example of active voice?

When a subject performs an action, the verb in that phrase is in the active voice, and there is a clear relationship between the subject and the verb. For instance, in the sentence Melvin struck the football, the subject (Melvin) acts in relation to the Football.

If you were able to solve these exercises by understanding active and passive voice examples, then you are going to ace that next grammar practice exam! 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 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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