Topic outline

    • Active and Passive Voice

      Sentences can be active or passive. Therefore, tenses also have "active forms" and "passive forms."

      Let’s see the following sentences.

            1.   The teacher teaches the students.

            2.   The student was taught by the teacher.

      What is the difference between these two sentences?

      In sentence 1, the subject (teacher) is the doer of the action i.e. the subject of the verb acts or is active. The Verb, teaches is therefore said to be in the Active Voice.

      In active sentences, the thing doing the action is the subject of the sentence and the thing receiving the action is the object. Most sentences are active.

      [Thing doing action] + [Verb] + [Thing receiving action]


      In sentence 2, the subject (student) is the receiver of the action. Here, the subject of the verb does not perform the action or is not active or is passive. Here the subject of the Verb is acted upon. The Verb (was taught) is therefore said to be in the passive voice.

      In passive sentences, the thing receiving the action is the subject of the sentence and the thing doing the action is usually mentioned near the end of the sentence. We can use the passive form when the thing receiving the action is more important or should be emphasized or when we do not know who is doing the action or we do not want to mention the doer.

      Only Transitive verbs can be used in the passive voice.

      [Thing receiving action] + [Be] + [Past participle of verb] + [By] + [Thing doing action]


      So when we change a sentence from Active form to the Passive, the Object of the Active Verb becomes the Subject of the passive verb.

      Some more examples

      Present Tense

      Active: I see a clear sky.

      Passive: A clear sky is seen by me.


      Active: Sam kills a snake.

      Passive: A snake is killed by Sam.


      Past Tense

      Active: Tom caught the burglar.

      Passive: The burglar was caught by Tom.


      Active: Piyush beat Jimmy.

      Passive: Jimmy was beaten by Piyush.


      Future Tense

      Active: Your mom will forgive you.

      Passive: You will be forgiven by your mom.


      Active: Ria will never help Tia.

      Passive: Tia will never be helped by Ria.


      Sentence that has two objects in the active voice can be changed to the passive in two ways.

      Active: She gave me a bouquet.


      A bouquet was given to me by her.

      I was given a bouquet by her.


      Active: We gave him a watch.


      A watch was given to him by us.

      He was given a watch by us.


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