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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:

Voice Subject Verb Object
Active Tom chases Jerry
Passive Jerry is chased by 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 voice Passive 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

Tense Verb change Active voice Passive voice
Simple Present Present participle is/are + perfect participle They keeptheir house clean. Their house is kept clean by them.
Present continuous am/is/are + ‘gerund (ing form) am/is/are + being + perfect participle Ryan is white-washingthe fence. The fence is being white-washed by Ryan.
Present perfect has/have + perfect participle has/have + been + perfect participle The cat has drunkthe milk. The milk has been drunk by the cat.
Present perfect continuous has/have + been + gerund has/have + been + being + perfect participle He has been paintingthe house. The house has been being painted by him.
Simple past past participle was/were + perfect participle Mozart wrotemore than 600 pieces of music. More than 600 pieces of music were written by Mozart.
Past continuous was/were + gerund was/were + being + perfect participle He was playingviolin. Violin was being played by him
Past perfect had + perfect participle had + been + perfect participle They had receivedthe parcel. The parcel had been received by them.
Past perfect continuous had + been + gerund had + been + being + perfect participle He had been preparingcharts. Charts had been being preparedby him.
Simple future will will + present participle will + be + perfect participle will keepthe box. The box will be kept by me.
going to am/is/are going to + present participle am/is/are going to + be + perfect participle am going to preparethe dinner. The dinner is going to be prepared by me.
Future continuous will will be + gerund will be + being + perfect participle He will be finishingthe work. The work will be being finished by him.
Future perfect will have + perfect participle will have + been + perfect participle will 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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