Active and Passive voice: Words come together to form a sentence and these sentences can be formed in more than one way. The way these sentences are made make a lot of difference in writing and we are going to learn all about that in this chapter. One thing to note here is that no matter what the structure of the sentence is, the meaning of the sentence does not change. That’s actually a very important point to remember throughout this chapter. Keep it in mind. Let’s dive straight into the realm of Active and Passive voice.
Active and Passive Voice:
- I swim in the ocean. – I is the subject, swim is the verb, and ocean is the object.
- My mom plays violin. – My mom is the subject, plays is the verb, and violin is the object.
Active voice: When a subject is directly acting on the object, the sentence is written in Active voice.
Passive voice: When the object is acted upon by the subject, the sentence is written in Passive voice.
Learn more about Verb here in detail.
In both the above sentences, the meaning remains the same and only the structure is what that changes. Usually, the structure or sequence of the subject, verb, and object expressed in the active voice sentence gets reversed in the passive voice of the same sentence. To understand the difference, just focus on how the subject and object change the structure of the sentences in the table below:
|Active Voice||Passive Voice|
|I ate the strawberry pie||The strawberry pie was eaten by me|
|I bought a Honda car||A Honda car was bought by me|
|The sun rises from the east||East is where the sun rises from|
|Reema can do skydiving||Skydiving can be done by Reema|
Now you must have gotten some idea of how the active and passive voice sentences look like. Note again how the meaning has stayed the same throughout. You may use some different words in situations where you must. But this conversion from one voice to another voice is really simple when you know a few rules that we will chalk out for you here:
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Structure of Active and Passive voice:
Active voice: Subject + Verb + Object
Passive voice: Object + Verb + Subject
You must have seen that the verb form changes when you switch from active to passive voice. Now verbs used are of two kinds: the main and the auxiliary verbs. Usually, an auxiliary verb is accompanied by the main verb. The auxiliary verb like be, do or have shows the tense or mood of the verb. For example, in the sentence “I have finished my scuba diving course in the Havelock Islands”, finished is the main verb and have is the auxiliary verb.
As a thumb rule, Passive voice sentences always take the third form of the verb also called the past participle form of the verb (example- eat, ate, eaten- eaten is the third form of a verb). Notice this being used in the sentence above in the table: “The strawberry pie was eaten by me.”
So the usage of the main verb is pretty simple to convert. It’s the auxiliary verb that we need to understand further. Let’s get into it:
Rules for changing Active voice to Passive voice:
- Simply exchange the places of the subject and the object. The subject should become the object and vice-e-versa while changing a sentence from Active to Passive voice or reverse.
- Active voice: She bought a new car. (She is the subject and a new car is an object.)
- Passive voice: A new car was bought by her. (A new car is a subject and her is the object.)
Learn more about Active Voice and Passive Voice here in detail.
2. Always blindly convert the main verb into its past participle or third form while converting from active to passive voice. To remind you what the third form of a verb looks like, let’s look at a few examples:
|First form||Second form||Third form|
- Active voice: Bhaanu wrote a book on gun violence.
- Passive voice: A book on gun violence was written by Bhaanu.
3. Use the word “by” before the subject in the passive sentence. For example:
- Active voice: My brother sang a song.
- Passive voice: A song was sung by my brother.
4. Change of tense of the auxiliary word: Now when you change the verb form of the main verb, the tense of the auxiliary also changes accordingly. Let’s see this with the help of a few examples:
- Present tense–
- Active voice: Sun rises from the east.
- Passive voice: East is where the sun rises from.
- Past tense–
- Active voice: She walked my dog home.
- Passive voice: My dog was walked home by her.
- Future tense–
- Active voice: Sheena will do the craft work.
- Passive voice: Craft work will be done by Sheena.
5. Sometimes you may completely omit the subject from the passive voice if the idea you are trying to convey is clear. You just have to take a judgement call for that. For example:
- Active voice: Distance is measured in kilometers.
- Passive voice: Kilometres is a measurement unit for distance.
6. Words like “with” or “to” are also used in passive voice. You may recall that we use “by” quite frequently in an active voice to passive voice conversion.
- Active voice: I know her.
- Passive voice: She is known to me.
- Active voice: Love fills my heart.
- Passive voice: My heart is filled with love.
Now test yourself by solving these Problems and Practice Questions on Active and Passive Voice.
That pretty much sums up our chapter of Active and Passive voice. We recommend you pick up a few sentences below, identify whether they are in active or passive voice and convert them to the other form.
- I love my music teacher.
- This painting is done by me.
- She cast a beautiful spell on me.
- I want to go home after school.
Go ahead and enjoy your sentences and their marvels of structures. Have fun with grammar!