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Active Voice :

When using the active voice, the subjects are the ones performing the action.

God loves all men.
Birds build nests.
Dog eats bones.

In these three sentences the subject does the action. Hence they are in the active avoice.

Passive Voice :

In the passive voice, the verb takes an object.

All men are loved by God.
Nests are built by birds.
Bones are eaten by dog.

These sentences are in passive voice. The Passive voice is used in English
(a) To stress the action done rather than the doer of the action
(b) If the doer is unknown
(c) When it is more convenient.

How to convert active voice sentences into passive voice:

First move the object in the active voice to the subject position. Use the appropriate ‘be’ verb
(is/am/are/was/were/has been/have been/shall be/will be)
To learn more about ‘Be’ Verbs Click here.

Active VoicePassive Voice
Columbus discovered America.America was discovered by Columbus
Who did this work?By whom was this work done?
Open the windowLet the window be opened
He is writing a letterA letter is being written by him
The work will be finished by meI will finish the work
Somebody cleaned the room yesterdayThe room was cleaned yesterday.
How to form passive forms of verbs?
Present Tensego, goesis gone (Singular)
are gone (Plural)
Past Tensewentwas went (Singular)
were went (Plural)
Future Tensewill / can / may / must => gowill / can etc. => be gone
Present Continuous Tenseam going
is going
is being going (Singular)
are being going (Plural)
Past Continuous Tenseare going
was going
were eating
was being gone (Singular)
were being gone (Plural)
Future Continuous Tensewill be going
shall be going
No Passive Voice
Present Perfect Tensehave gone
has gone
have been gone (Plural)
has been gone (Singular)
Past Perfect Tensehad gonehad been gone
Future Perfect Tenseshall have gone
will have gone
will have been gone
Present Perfect Continuous Tensehas been going
have been going
No Passive Voice
Past Perfect Continuous Tensehad been goingNo Passive Voice
Future Perfect Continuous Tenseshall have been going
will have been going
No Passive Voice
Changes of Pronouns:
Active VoicePassive Voice
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.
Active VoicePassive Voice
I write a letterA letter is written by me
We must keep the ruleThe rule must be kept by us
You bought a bookA book have been bought by you
He closed the windowThe window was closed by him
She was writing lettersLetters were being written by her
I had posted a letterA letter had been posted by me
I do not drink teaTea is not drunk by me
She does not eat a mangoA mango is not eaten by her
He will have finished his workThe work will have been finished by him
They are digging a wellA well is being dug by them
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 VoicePassive Voice
Help meLet me be helped
Sing a songLet a song be sing
Open the doorLet the door be opened
Don’t eat this fruitLet not this fruit be eaten

Questions in the Passive :
If the question in the Active Voice begins with a Helping verb the Passive voice must also begin with a suitable helping verb. Supposing the question begins with ‘Wh or How’ form (what, when, how ...) the Passive Voice must begin with the same.
Active VoicePassive Voice
Are you writing a letter?Is a letter being written by you?
Is she beating the child?Is the child beaten by her?
Will you accept the position?Will the position be accepted by you?
Who broke the window?By whom was the window broken?
Why did you write such a letter?Why was such a letter written by you?
Where can you hide this box?Where can this box be hidden by you?

Sentences with two objects :

If a sentence contains two objects namely Indirect Object and Direct Object in the Active Voice, two forms of Passive Voice can be formed.
  • She brought me a cup of coffee. (AV)
    I was brought a cup of coffee by her. (PV) (or)
    A cup of coffee was brought [to] me by her. (PV)

  • The teacher teaches us grammar. (AV)
    We are taught grammar by the teacher. (PV) (or)
    Grammar is taught [to] us by the teacher. (PV)

Beware of Complement :

  • They made him king. (AV)
    He was made king by them. (PV)
Infinitive and Gerund :
  • I want to shoot the tiger. (AV)
    I want the tiger to be shoot. (PV)
  • I remember my father taking me to the theatre. (AV)
    I remember being taken to the theatre by my father. (PV)

Passive Voice into Active Voice

While changing Passive Voice into Active Voice, we must keep in mind all the rules of the Active Voice in the reverse order. We come across sentences in the Passive Voice without subject or agent. In this case, supply the appropriate subject.
To decide whether the given passive voice sentence is in passive voice, any one of the following constructions should be present.
  • 1. is, was ,are, were, am + past participle
  • 2. be + past participle
  • 3. being + past participle
  • 4. been + past participle
  • 5. Let ...be + past participle
Changing Passive Voice to Active Voice.
Passive VoiceActive Voice
The thief was finally arrestedThe police finally arrested the thief
We were taught grammarThe teacher taught us grammar
My purse has been stolenSomebody has stolen my purse
The patients were looked afterThe doctor looked after the patients


Differences between passive voice with ‘by’ - phrase and impersonal passive:

Compare these two sentences:

  • Last year, the Green-India scheme was announced by the Government.
  • Rare plants are found in Silent Valley.
In the first sentence, the doer/agent is explicitly mentioned because the doer is important in that sentence. But in the second sentence it is not so, because either the agent or doer of the action is too obvious or unknown.

The passive construction is quite common in scientific / technical / business writing. In these types of objective writing the emphasis is usually on the action or process or thing that is described. So the ‘by’ phrase is generally omitted in these writings. It is called Impersonal Passive.

Converting the following sentences into imperative passive.

  • They say that might is right.
    It is said that might is right.
  • One finds mosquitoes everywhere.
    Mosquitoes are found everywhere.
  • He gave us a cheque.
    A cheque was given to us.

Change the following sentences with the correct voice :

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