Active-passive-voice-what,why,how,when explained with the simplest method

Introduction—

Voice in English language or in any other is really interesting but slightly confusing part. There are 12 main active voice tenses in English .Out of these 12 tenses only 8 can be transformed into passive voice. We will know every single detail of it here.

Before that I would like to relate my experience with passive voice and how it changed my life completely. When I first went for my job of English Language Trainer, I was asked the question ,’’What is the meaning of the sentence ‘I am eaten’ ?” Honestly speaking I was unable to answer it properly and lost that job.

Luckily I got the same job in another institution after two weeks but only after finding the proper meaning of above question because there I was asked the meaning of ‘ I am beaten’ and I answered it with confidence because of my efforts to understand the nature of these questions.

I found out these questions were in passive voice with agent. I rectified my weaknesses of passive voice and got learning and growing opportunity . The same pattern that helped me find out the answers of these questions and other doubts like how to identify active and passive voice, when do we use passive voice and why, what are the rules to change active voice to passive voice, what are the formulas to do so in all the tenses like present , past, future.

Now here I am going to give you all the answers of such queries about active voice and passive voice in your mind.

First query what is the meaning of I am eaten and I am beaten? To help you understand it in the better manner I would like to add agents to these sentences. I am eaten by the tiger. I am beaten by hands.

Now you must have understood that the first and the second sentences are in simple present tense passive voice and They began with object I .So it is evident that passive voice tense sentences are like a googly. Before learning passive voice you should have sound knowledge of 12 active voice tenses. We need careful attention and understanding of them.

Let us start to clear your doubts step by step—

What is voice- active voice and passive voice?

In simple words we can say that the sentence that begins with subject is in passive voice and the sentence which begins with object is in passive voice. Here I have mentioned the terms like sentence, subject, object. First I will explain them in short for your better understanding.

1)Sentence–-A group of words that makes complete sense is called as sentence.

Necessarily there should be subject and verb.

2)Subject-–(Doer) the doer itself tells us that subject s the one that performs action denoted by verb.

3)Object—(Receiver)the word receiver tells us that it receives the action performed by the subject.

4)Verb—The words that show action or the state-of-being of people , places , things etc.

Now we are ready to know the grammatical definitions of voice, active voice and passive voice.

VOICE— In simple words voice is the form of verb that indicates if anything denoted by the doer(subject) performs something or anything has been done to it.

1)Active voice—The form of verb is said to be in active voice when subject is active and the verb changes according to it. Subject is the doer of action in active voice.

Eg.1)We learn English.(here we is subject(doer),English is object and learn is verb.

2)Passive voice—-The form of verb is said to be in passive voice when object is active and subject is kept passive and the verb changes according to the object.

In passive voice subject receives the action of verb.

Eg. 1)English is learnt by us.

Here we have discussed about what is active voice and passive voice. Now we will find solution of a very common question Can we change every sentence from active to passive ?

Can we change every sentence from active to passive voice?

The answer to this question is no we can’t change every single sentence to passive voice. There are two important types of verbs. They are

1)Transitive verbs -The verb that makes sense with object is called as transitive verb.

Eg. catch, play, eat, sing break, give , take, push, love, teach, learn, call, tell, find.

2)Intransitive verbs The verb that makes sense without object is called as intransitive verb.

Eg. Come, go dance, swim, laugh, cry, run, act, pray, leap, fly, jump, expand, float, march, mourn, limp, fall.

If there is transitive verb in the sentence then only we can change it to passive voice. That is if there is direct or indirect object in the given sentence then only we can do it.

We can’t change the sentence I go to park as there is no object but we can change I learn English into passive as English is learnt by me.

Why do we use passive voice or what are the uses of passive voice sentences —

This is very interesting question. First let me clear important fact that all the uses of active voice tenses are applicable to that particular tense’s passive voice also. If we are able to express complete meaning in active voice then why should we use passive voice? There are many important reasons for it. They can be given as follows.

1)We use passive voice when subject is commonly known to all.

Eg. 1)Wheat is grown in Punjab (by farmers.)

2)Rice is sold here (By grocer)

3)The doctor was called (by somebody)

4)The police were informed about the mishap (by somebody)

2)When we don’t know the subject we use passive voice to begin the sentence with the subject.

Eg. 1)My book has been stolen.

2)They were chased.

3)People were cheated in online fraud.

3)Some times we don’t use subject.

1)I am being beaten.

2)T.V. has been brought at our house.

4)Sometimes we have both subject and object but we are more interested in object than subject and give more importance to object and begin sentence with object.

1)A flyover is being constructed in our city.

2)He is wished on the occasion of his birthday.

Can all 12 main tenses be changed into passive?

No, all 12 tenses can’t be changed into passive voice. Here is the list of tenses which can be transformed into passive voice.

1)Simple present tense.

2)Present continuous tense.

3)Present perfect tense.

4)Simple past tense.

5)Past continuous tense.

6)Past perfect tense.

7)Simple future tense.

8)Future perfect tense.

The following tenses are not possible in passive voice.

1)Present perfect continuous tense.

2)Past perfect continuous tense.

3)Future perfect continuous tense.

4)Future continuous tense.

Now we will start learning rules (steps) for changing active voice to passive voice.

How to change active voice to passive voice(Rules/steps)-

These are the basic rules or steps to change active voice sentence to passive voice—

1)First begin the sentence with object instead of subject.(Here take note that object itself becomes subject and subject becomes agent(object).

2Then use helping verb as per the tense of the sentence and the number of subject which is the object of active voice sentence.

Eg. 1)Simple present tense-am/is/are.

2)Present continuous(progressive) tense-am/is/are+ being.

3)Present perfect tense-have/has +been .

4)simple past tense-was/were.

5)Past continuous tense-was/were +being.

6)Past perfect tense- had +been.

7)Simple future tense-will/shall +be.

8)Future perfect tense-will/shall +have +been.

9)Modals-modal(can/could/must)+be

10)Imperative sentence-Let+object+be+v3

11)Modals(Past)-modal(must/should/could/would)+have +been.

3)Third step is to use past participle form(V3) of main verb.

4)After that use by +agent(Subject of active voice sentence). Most important thing to note down is that Nominative case subjects (I, we, you, he, she, it, they) are written in objective case (me, us, you, him, her, it, them).

Sr.no. Nominative case Objective case
1 I Me
2 we                                      us
3 You(s.)                                you(s)
4 You(p.) You(p.)
5 They Them
6 Plural noun(Students) Plural noun(Students)
7 He Him
8 She Her
9 It It
10 Singular noun(John) Singular noun(John)

How to identify subject and object for changing active voice to passive voice—

Sometimes it is very difficult to find out subject and object of the given sentence. But hereafter you will not face that problem. This is the solution.

There are two types of objects in the sentence.

1)Direct object–To find direct object of given sentence, Just ask question to main verb with what

Eg. 1)I take a book.—-What do I take?—-The answer is a book.

2)She learns English.—-What does she learn?—–English.-object

3)Government took a decision.—–What did government take? ——a decision.—object

2)Indirect object—-To find indirect object, ask question with whom to main verb.

Eg. 1)Teacher told us a story.—–Whom did teacher tell a story?—–us—object

There is direct object in this sentence.—What did teacher tell us?—a story—object

2)Teacher asked students.—-Whom did teacher ask?—–students-Object

3)Mobile helps people.—whom does mobile help?—people—object

Formulas to transform 8 active voice sentences in passive voice with examples, rules , steps

Here we will learn about structures of active voices tenses in passive voice. Only eight tenses are transformed in passive voice. We will learn their sentence construction formulas, rules and all necessary details with examples and exercises. We will study each tense’s 1)Affirmative 2)Negative 3)Interrogative 4)Interrogative negative sentences for your perfect understanding.

1)Simple present tense passive voice–

General structure—Object+ am/is/are+v3+by+agent(subject)

Compare it with simple present tense active voice—Subject+v1+s/es+ object.

Here remember that object of active voice sentence becomes subject of passive voice sentence and subject is called as agent. Some of the passive voice sentences don’t have agents.

A)Affirmative sentences—

Syntax—Object+ am/is/are+v3+by+agent(subject).

10 basic examples for practice—

Sr. no. Active voice sentence Passive voice sentence
1 I give a book. A book is given by me
2 We give a book. A book is given by us.
3 You(s.) give a book. A book is given by you.
4 You(p.)give a book A book is given by you.
5 They give a book. A book is given by them.
6 Students give a book. A book is given by students.
7 He gives a book. A book is given by him.
8 She gives a book. A book is given by her.
9 It gives a book. A book is given by it.
10 John(s.n.) gives a book. A book is given by John.

B)Negative sentence Syntax—Object+ am/is/are+not+v3+by+agent.

Eg. 1)I don’t give a book—-A book is not given by me.

2)We don’t play games.—–Games are not played by us.

3)She doesn’t complete her project.—–Her project is not completed by her.

C)Interrogative sentence- Syntax—Am/is/are+object+v3+by+agent?

Eg. 1)Do I take a book?—-Is a book taken by me?

2)Do you bring your bag?—-Is your bag brought by you?

3)Does he learn English?—–Is English learnt by him?

D)Interrogative negative sentence Syntax—Am/is/are+object+not+v3+by+agent?

1)Do I not take a book?—-Is a book not taken by me?

2)Do you not eat fruits?—–Are fruits not eaten by you?

3)Does it not help us?—-Are we not helped by it?

2)Present continuous (Progressive) tense passive voice—

A) Affirmative sentence—-

Syntax—Object+ am/is/are+being+v3+by+agent(subject).

10 basic sentences—

Sr. no. Active voice sentence Passive voice sentence
1 I am giving a book. A book is being given by me
2 We are giving a book. A book is being given by us.
3 You(s.) are giving a book. A book is being given by you.
4 You(p.)are giving a book A book is being given by you.
5 They are giving a book. A book is being given by them.
6 Students are giving a book. A book is being given by students.
7 He is giving a book. A book is being given by him.
8 She is giving a book. A book is being given by her.
9 It is giving a book. A book is being given by it.
10 John(s. n.) is giving a book. A book is being given by John.

B)Negative sentence—

Syntax— Object+ am/is/are+not+being+v3+by+agent(subject).

1)We are not doing it right.—It is not being done right by us.

C)Interrogative sentence—

Syntax—Am/is/are+object+being+v3+by+agent(subject)?

1)Are people cutting the trees?—Are the trees being cut by people?

D)Interrogative negative sentence—

Syntax—Am/is/are+object+not+being+v3+by+agent(subject)?

1)Is he not inventing something? —Is something being invented by him?

3)Present perfect tense passive voice—

A)Affirmative sentence—-

Syntax—Object+ have/has+been+v3+by+agent(subject)

10 basic examples for practice—

Sr. no. Active voice sentence Passive voice sentence
1 I have given a book. A book has been given by me
2 We have given a book. A book has been given by us.
3 You(s.) have given a book. A book has been given by you.
4 You(p.) have given a book A book has been given by you.
5 They have given a book. A book has been given by them.
6 Students have given a book. A book has been given by students.
7 He has given a book. A book has been given by him.
8 She has given a book. A book has been given by her.
9 It has given a book. A book has been given by it.
10 John(s. n.) has given a book. A book has been given by John.

B)Negative sentence—-

Syntax—Object+ have/has+not+been+v3+by+agent(subject)

1)You have not performed your duty.—Your duty has not been performed by you.

C)Interrogative sentence—-

Syntax—Have/has+object+been+v3+by+agent(subject)+?

1)Has she mastered Java script?—-Has Java script been mastered by her?

D)Interrogative negative sentence—-

Syntax—Have/has+object+not+been+v3+by+agent(subject)+?

1)Have friends not planned a picnic?—-Has a picnic not been planned by friends?

4)Simple past tense passive voice—

A)Affirmative sentence—

Syntax—Object+ was/were+v3+by+agent(subject).

Sr. no. Active voice sentence Passive voice sentence
1 I gave a book. A book was given by me
2 We gave a book. A book was given by us.
3 You(s.) gave a book. A book was given by you.
4 You(p.)gave a book A book was given by you.
5 They gave a book. A book was given by them.
6 Students gave a book. A book was given by students.
7 He gave a book. A book was given by him.
8 She gave a book. A book was given by her.
9 It gave a book. A book was given by it.
10 John(s.n.) gave a book. A book was given by John.

B)negative sentence—

Syntax—Object+ was/were+not+v3+by+agent(subject).

1)Sam took a bag.—-A bag was taken by Sam.

2)We did not waste time.—-Time is not wasted by us.

C)Interrogative sentence—

Syntax—Was/were+subject+v3+by+agent(subject)?

1) Did it help you?—Were you helped by it?

D)Interrogative negative sentence—

Syntax—Was/were+subject+not+v3+by+agent(subject)?

1)Did they not find the truth?—Was the truth not found by them?

5)Past continuous tense passive voice—-

A)Affirmative sentence—

Syntax—Object+ was/were+being+v3+by+agent (Subject).

1)

Sr. no. Active voice sentence Passive voice sentence
1 I was giving a book. A book was being given by me
2 We were giving a book. A book was being given by us.
3 You(s.) were giving a book. A book was being given by you.
4 You(p.) were giving a book A book was being given by you.
5 They were giving a book. A book was being given by them.
6 Students were giving a book. A book was being given by students.
7 He was giving a book. A book was being given by him.
8 She was giving a book. A book was being given by her.
9 It was giving a book. A book was being given by it.
10 John(s.n.) was giving a book. A book was being given by John.

B)negative sentence—

Syntax—Object+ was/were+not+being+v3+by+agent(Subject).

1)John was not making excuses.—Excuses were not being made by John.

C)Interrogative sentence—

Syntax—Was/were+object+being+v3+by+agent(Subject)?

1)Were you singing a song?—Was a song being sung by you?

D)Interrogative negative sentence—

Syntax—Was/were+object+not+being+v3+by+agent(Subject)?

1)Was he not rectifying his mistakes?—Were his mistakes not being rectified by him?

6)Past perfect tense passive voice—-

A)Affirmative sentence—-

Syntax—-Object+had+been+v3+by+agent(Subject).

1)

Sr. no. Active voice sentence Passive voice sentence
1 I had given a book. A book had been given by me
2 We had given a book. A book had been given by us.
3 You(s.) had given a book. A book had been given by you.
4 You(p.) had given a book A book had been given by you.
5 They had given a book. A book had been given by them.
6 Students had given a book. A book had been given by students.
7 He had given a book. A book had been given by him.
8 She had given a book. A book had been given by her.
9 It had given a book. A book had been given by it.
10 John(s.n.) had given a book. A book had been given by John.

B)negative sentence—-

Syntax—-Object+had+not+been+v3+by+agent(Subject).

1)Books had provided knowledge.—-Knowledge had been provided by books.

C)Interrogative sentence—-

Syntax—-Had+object+been+v3+by+agent(Subject)+?

1)Had my bike troubled you?—Had you been troubled by my bike?

D)Interrogative negative sentence—-

Syntax—-Had+object+not+been+v3+by+agent(Subject)+?

1)Had the trees not lent helping hands?—Had helping hands not been lent by the trees?

7)Simple future tense passive voice—-

A)Affirmative sentence——

Syntax—-Object+ will/shall+be+v3+by+agent(subject).

1)

Sr. no. Active voice sentence Passive voice sentence
1 I will give a book. A book will be given by me
2 We will give a book. A book will be given by us.
3 You(s.) will give a book. A book will be given by you.
4 You(p.) will give a book A book will be given by you.
5 They will give a book. A book will be given by them.
6 Students will give a book. A book will be given by students.
7 He will give a book. A book will be given by him.
8 She will give a book. A book will be given by her.
9 It will give a book. A book will be given by it.
10 John(s.n.) will give a book. A book will be given by John.

B)negative sentence——

Syntax—-Object+ will/shall+not+be+v3+by+agent(subject).

1)She will not cook food.—Food will not be cooked by her.

C)Interrogative sentence——

Syntax—-Will/shall+object+be+v3+by+agent(subject)+?

1)Will you finish the project?—Will the project be finished by you?

D)Interrogative negative sentence——

Syntax—-Will/shall+object+not+be+v3+by+agent(subject)+?

1)Will they not win the match?—-Will the match not be won by them?

8)Future perfect tense passive voice—

A)Affirmative sentence—

Syntax—-Object+ will/shall+have+been+v3+by+agent(subject).

10 basic examples for practice—

Sr. no. Active voice sentence Passive voice sentence
1 I will have given a book. A book will have been given by me
2 We will have given a book. A book will have been given by us.
3 You(s.) will have given a book. A book will have been given by you.
4 You(p.) will have given a book A book will have been given by you.
5 They will have given a book. A book will have been given by them.
6 Students will have given a book. A book will have been given by students.
7 He will have given a book. A book will have been given by him.
8 She will have given a book. A book will have been given by her.
9 It will have given a book. A book will have been given by it.
10 John(s. n.) will have given a book. A book will have been given by John.

B)Negative sentence—

Syntax—-Object+ will/shall+not+have+been+v3+by+agent(subject).

1)They will not have grown trees.—-Trees will not have been grown by them.

C)Interrogative sentence—

Syntax—-Will/shall+object+have+been+v3+by+agent(subject)+?

1)Will it have saved time?—-Will time be saved by it?

D)Interrogative negative sentence—

Syntax—-Will/shall+object+not+have+been+v3+by+agent(subject)+?

1)Will he not have suggested something?—Will something not have been suggested by him?s

9)Imperative sentence passive voice—

A)Affirmative sentence—

Syntax—-Let+object+be+v3

1)Open the door—Let the door be opened. (Passive voice)

2)Change the degree—Let the degree be changed.

3)Change the voice—Let the voice be changed.

4)Answer my questions—Let my questions be answered.

10)Modal auxiliary sentence passive voice—

1)Present modal—-

Syntax—Object+ modal(can/could/must/should)+be+v3+by+agent(Subject)

Eg. 1)We can give report.—–Report can be given by us.

2)You must help the needy.—-The needy must be helped by you.

2)Past modals(with modal+have+v3)—

Syntax—Object+ modal (Can/could/must/should)+have+been+v3+by+agent(subject).

Eg. 1)I must have given my car.—My car must have been given by me.

2)She could have contacted us.—-We could have been contacted by her.

11)Passive voice of going to sentences—-

Eg. 1)He is going to learn English.—-English is going to be learnt by him.

2)They are going to invest money.—Money is going to be invested by them.

12)Passive voice of have to/has to, had to/will have to/shall have to sentences—

Eg. 1)We have to start the process.—The process has to be started by us.

2)She has to read books.—-Books have to be read by her.

3)He had to spend time .—-Time had to be spent by him.

4)You will have to solve it.—-It will have to be solved by you.

13)Some exceptional WH questions—-

Eg. 1)Who opened the door?—-By whom was the door opened?

2)Who informed you?—–By whom were you informed?

3)Who rewarded them?—By whom were they rewarded?

4)Why did your friend take this side?—Why was this side taken by your friend?

Do as directed-change the given sentences in passive voice(Exercise with detailed explanation of answers)—

1)I started a company NEXT.

Ans.-A company NEXT was started by me.

Explanation—The given sentence is in simple past tense active voice.So we have used was as helping verb as per the number of subject a company NEXT(singular).

2)We defined our goals.

Ans.-Our goals were defined by us.

Explanation-–The given sentence is in simple past tense. So we have used were as helping verb as per the number of object our goals(plural)

3)She forgives others.

Ans. Others are forgiven by her.

Explanation—The given sentence is in simple present tense active voice. For that we have used helping verb are as per plural object others.

4)They have grabbed the opportunity.

Ans. The opportunity has been grabbed by them.

Explanation —Given sentence is in present perfect tense active voice. We have used helping verb has as object the opportunity is singular.

5)Children were making fun.

Ans.-Fun was being made by children.

Explanation —past continuous tense active voice sentence given. Its passive voice helping verbs are was/were+ being. Fun is singular.so the use of was.

6)John will not repeat his mistake.

Ans.His mistake will not be repeated by John.

Explanation —Simple future active voice sentence. Its passive voice helping verbs are will/shall+ be.

7)You should break it.

Ans. It should be broken by you.

Explanation —Modal auxiliary sentence. Be is used with modal in passive voice.

How to change passive voice to active voice-Rules,formulas,examples,detailed guide-

We have studied in detail about how to change active voice sentence to passive voice. Now we will know how to do exact opposite of it that is we will learn how to change passive voice to active voice.

For that you should have good knowledge of 12 active voice sentence constructions, 8 passive voice sentence constructions that we have discussed above. Here we will star how to change from passive voice to active voice.

Steps to change passive voice to active voice—-

1)First begin your sentence with subject instead of object. Subject is always in nominative case.

2)Remove passive voice helping verb and use active voice helping verb, main verb.

3)Use v3 only for present/past/future perfect tense. for other tenses use verb form as per their structure in active voice.

4)Remove BY used before agent.

5)Then write object. If object is pronoun, write it in objective case. See above given chart of nominative and objective case pronouns.

That’s it, your transformation is ready.

Eg. 1)We are answered by people.

Ans. People answer us.

Explanation—Given sentence is in simple present tense passive voice. We started sentence with subject with people, removed passive voice helping verb are , used v1 as per simple present active voice, removed by, used object we in objective case as us.

2)Police were informed.

Ans. They (Someone) informed police.

Given sentence Is in simple past passive. There is no agent . So we assume such as by them /someone We began sentence with subject, removed were, used v2.removed by, placed object after main verb.

3)It had been completed by you.

Ans. You had completed it.

4)They will be called by the company.

Ans. The company will call them.

5)The doctor was called.

Ans. They (Someone) called the doctor.

6)Pictures should be drawn. (By students).

Ans. Students should draw pictures.

7)They had been informed (By you).

Ans. You had informed them.

Conclusion—

Here we come to the finishing part of this important topic of active voice and passive voice, its rules to change, formulas for easy understanding, examples with explanation. I am sure if you go through this article frequently, you will never face problems in  understanding passive voice and transforming passive voice sentence to active voice. Comment your suggestions and feed backs.

Best wishes from team learnhatkey.com

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