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Voice: Identify Active & Passive Voice With Examples

The form of a verb in which it is known that the main relation of the verb in the sentence is with the subject, action, or feeling, is called voice. In this, the subject is primarily responsible for an action.

Look at the sentences from the text given below. Notice the functions of the underlined verbs phrases:

  • Underground railways are wrecked.
  • 30,000 houses were destroyed.
  • Only a few people were killed.
  • The two buildings are linked by a laser beam.
  • The beam will be disturbed.

The nouns which occupy the position of the subject in the sentences given above are not the doers of the action but the receivers of the action.

Now look at some more sentences given below

  • Ritu likes grammar.
  • Mohit opened the door.
  • We will write many letters.

The subject of the above sentences (Ritu, Mohit, and we) are the doers of the action. So the sentences are said to be in the active voice. The verb (likes, opened, will write) are in the active voice.

The above sentences can be written like these-

  • Grammar is liked by Ritu.
  • The door was opened by Mohit.
  • Many letters will be written by us.

Here, the subjects of the above sentences are not the doer of the action. They are the receivers of the action. So the sentences are said to be in the Passive voice the verb (is liked, was opened, will be written) are in the Passive voice.

When the subject of the verb is the doer of the action, the verb is said to be in the Active Voice.

When the subject of the verb is the receiver of the action the verb is said to be in the Passive Voice.

Passive construction does two things:

1. It brings the object/affected to the subject position (and the original subject is optionally slatted into a by-phrase)

2. It introduces the verb be and the past participle form of the verb (-ed/en)

A truck crushed the car.

(Sub) (Verb) (Object)

The car was crushed by a truck.

(Sub) (Verb) (Object)

With verbs that can have two objects, either object can be the subject of the Passive


Ravi gave the book to Rupa. ( active )

Rupa was given the book by Ravi. ( passive )

The book was given to Rupa by Ravi. ( passive )

Note – There are no significant can change in the meaning of the sentence when we change it from active voice to passive voice.

In active voice, the subject performs the action while in the passive voice the subject of the verb is acted upon.

Uses of passive construction

The passive construction is used in the following situation:

1. When the agent is unknown.

e.g. DDT was spread over the area.

2. When the agent is too obvious.

e.g. English is taught at the Institute of English. It can not be written in an active voice like this -(English teachers teach English at the Institute of English.)

3. When the process is more important than the agent, for instance, in scientific experiments, or recipes.

e.g. Water is added to sodium chloride. The mixture is boiled.

4. When the agent does not want to reveal his identity.

e.g. An error was made. (Instead of I made an error.)

5. When the speaker wants to hide the sources of some confidential information.

e.g. I was informed that the grammar lessons were boring. ( Instead of Megha informed me that the grammar )

6. To hide one’s ignorance or when your memory fails you, i,e. the agent is unknown to you.

e.g. This city was named Hyderabad in 1816. ( instead of Quli Qutub Shah named the city Hyderabad in 1816.)

Let us see what changes we find while changing from active voice to passive voice.

Present Indefinite Tense

He sings a song.A song is sung by him.
Farmers grow rice.Rice is grown by farmers.
We help everybody.Everybody is helped by us.

Past Indefinite Tense

He wrote many letters.Many letters were written by him.
You stole a pen.A pen was stolen by you.
They gave no books.No books were given by them.

Future Indefinite Tense

She will tell a story.A story will be told by her.
He will write a poem.A poem will be written by him.
They will make kites.Kites will be made by them.
Note: Make a list of changes which you have found in the above sentences.

Exercise: Change into passive

Change the following sentences into passive voice.

They wrote an application.

He makes tea.

Children love animals.

She hid the key.

A friend told me the latest news.

They paid him his salary.

I will answer the all questions and

Read the following sentences :

1. She is writing the story.

Sub action object

The story is being written by her.

Sub (is/am/are + being + V3) object

2. He has written the latter

Sub action object

The letter has been written by him.

Sub (has/have + been + V3) object.


Present Continues Tense

Ravi is making a kite.A kite is being made by Ravi.
She is advising me.I am being advised by her.
They are cutting the tree.The trees are being cut by them.

Past Continues Tense

I was writing an essay.An essay was being written.
They were drawing a picture.A picture was being drawn.
He was writing some articles.Some articles were being written by him.

Present Perfect Tense

Rita has caught a rat.A rat has been caught by Rita.
They have seen this article.This article has been seen by them.
She has chosen these mugs.These mugs have been chosen by her.

Past Perfect Tense

They had cut the trees.The trees had been cut.
I Had wasted the money.The money had been wasted.
She had made some pictures.Some pictures had been made by he.

Exercise: Change into passive

My mother is making tea.

They are praising her.

Rina was doing her assignment.

They were making flowers.

She has lost her cell phone.

They were writing poetry.

He had finished his lesson.

We learnt all rules.

He has done his glasswork.

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