Active and Passive Voice

In English grammar, the voice defines the relationship between the subject of the verb and the corresponding action described by it. Transitive verbs can be either active or passive in voice.

Active voice: In the active voice, the subject is the doer of the action. In sentences where the verbs are used in active voice, the focus is on the doer and not the action performed by him/her/it.

Passive voice: In the passive voice, the subject is the receiver of the action. It is shown with ‘by + doer’ or is not shown in the sentence. In sentences where verbs are used in passive voice, the focus shifts to the receiver of the action.

For Example:

The dog chased the cats. (Active)

The cats were chased by the dog. (Passive)

For changing the voice of a sentence, the following rules are to be followed:

1. The object in the Active Voice becomes the subject in the Passive Voice and the subject in the Active Voice becomes the object in the Passive Voice.

2. If the subject or the object is a Pronoun, it changes in the following manner

a) I changes to me

b) We changes to us

c) You undergoes no change

d) He changes to him

e) She changes to her

f) It remains the same

g) They changes to them.

3. In order to change of verbs (tenses) from active to passive, the following rules are to be kept in mind.

a) Simple Present Tense: am /is /are + past participle

b) Simple Past Tense: Was / were + past participle

c) Simple Future Tense: shall / will + be + past participle

Transitive verbs with two objects: Transitive verbs with two objects make either the direct or the indirect object as the subject in passive voice.

Auxiliary Verbs: ‘be’ + past participle is added while changing the modal auxiliary verbs into passive.

When should you use passive voice?

Passive voice is used in the following cases:

a) To emphasize the receiver/object rather than the doer.

b) To create an authoritative tone.

c) To keep the subject and the focus consistent throughout the passage.

d) To describe a condition in which the doer is unknown or unimportant.

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