Basics of Active Passive Voice

Read on to learn the Rules for Converting Active Passive VoiceSpotting Errors in passive voice sentences, etc. What’s more, by the end of this article, you will be able to able to write flawless essays and letters too! Download this article as a PDF by clicking above.

Now let us look at the Basics of Active Passive Voice.

Difference Between Active and Passive Voice

Tom chases Jerry’ is a sentence in active voice. Its passive equivalent is ‘Jerry is chased by Tom.’ What are changes made to obtain the passive equivalent?

1. The subject and object are interchanged:

VoiceSubjectVerbObject
ActiveTomchasesJerry
PassiveJerryis chasedby Tom

2. Change in the form of the main verb:

chases → is chased

present participle  linking verb + perfect participle of chase

2. Addition of ‘by’ in front of the object denoting the presence of an agent which does some action on the subject.

Why do we need active and passive voice?

Active voicePassive voice
1. Used to say what the subject does
Tom (s) chases (v) Jerry (o).
2. Who or what causes the action is known/important
a. Malgudi Days is interesting.
Who wrote it?
R. K. Narayan wrote it.
b. Who invented the telephone?
1. Used to say what happens
to the subject

Jerry (s) is chased (v) by Tom (o).
2. Who or what causes the action is unknown/unimportant or to be vague about who is responsible
a. The house is kept clean. I don’t know who does that, but the house is clean!
And, that’s what matters.

b. When was the telephone invented?

Active Passive Voice usage

Changing the verb

TenseVerb changeActive voicePassive voice
Simple PresentPresent participleis/are + perfect participleThey keeptheir house clean.Their house is kept clean by them.
Present continuousam/is/are + ‘gerund (ing form)am/is/are + being + perfect participleRyan is white-washingthe fence.The fence is being white-washed by Ryan.
Present perfecthas/have + perfect participlehas/have + been + perfect participleThe cat has drunkthe milk.The milk has been drunk by the cat.
Present perfect continuoushas/have + been + gerundhas/have + been + being + perfect participleHe has been paintingthe house.The house has been being painted by him.
Simple pastpast participlewas/were + perfect participleMozart wrotemore than 600 pieces of music.More than 600 pieces of music were written by Mozart.
Past continuouswas/were + gerundwas/were + being + perfect participleHe was playingviolin.Violin was being played by him
Past perfecthad + perfect participlehad + been + perfect participleThey had receivedthe parcel.The parcel had been received by them.
Past perfect continuoushad + been + gerundhad + been + being + perfect participleHe had been preparingcharts.Charts had been being preparedby him.
Simple futurewillwill + present participlewill + be + perfect participlewill keepthe box.The box will be kept by me.
going toam/is/are going to + present participleam/is/are going to + be + perfect participleam going to preparethe dinner.The dinner is going to be prepared by me.
Future continuouswillwill be + gerundwill be + being + perfect participleHe will be finishingthe work.The work will be being finished by him.
Future perfectwill have + perfect participlewill have + been + perfect participlewill have finishedthe work.The work will have been finished by me.

You must have noticed

  • The main verb is always the perfect participle of the root verb.

He had been preparing charts.
Charts had been being prepared by him.

They keep their house clean.
Their house is kept clean by them.

  • Gerund (ing form) always changes into ‘being + perfect participle’.

He will be finishing the work.
The work will be being finished by him.

He was playing violin.
Violin was being played by him

  • Has/have/had changes into ‘has/have/had + been’.

I will have finished the work.
The work will have been finished by me.

They had received the parcel.
The parcel had been received by them.

We hope you find this article helpful.

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