Active & Passive Voice

Active Voice and Passive Voice: Active and passive voice meaning, Active voice to passive voice rules with examples and exercises

Active Voice and Passive Voice: Active and passive voice meaning, Active voice to passive voice rules with examples and exercises

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Learning Pundits Content Team

Written on Sep 28, 2017 7:07:22 PM

Grammar Rules with 6 Tips for using Active and Passive Voices

Looking for Questions instead of tips? - You can directly jump to English Grammar Test Questions on Active and Passive Voice

What is Voice?

The voice of a verb tells whether the subject of the sentence performs or receives the action.

i) Birds build nests.

ii) Nests are built by birds.

Types of Voice:

Active Voice: the subject performs the action expressed by the verb.

Usage: when more clarity and straightforward relation is required between verb and subject.

Passive Voice: the subject receives the action expressed by the verb.

Usage: when the action is the focus, not the subject or when the doer is unknown.

Rules of Conversion from Active to Passive Voice:

1.     Identify the subject, the verb and the object: S+V+O

2.     Change the object into subject

3.     Put the suitable helping verb or auxiliary verb

4.     Change the verb into past participle of the verb

5.     Add the preposition "by“

6.     Change the subject into object


Active Voice: Sameer wrote a letter. (Subject) + (verb) + (object).

Passive Voice: A letter was written by Sameer. (Object) + (auxiliary verb) + (past participle) + (by subject).

Passive Voice for all tenses:

The rules for using Auxiliary verb for Passive Voice is different for each tense.

1.Simple Present Tense:

Active Voice: She writes a letter.

Passive Voice: A letter is written by her.

2.Present Progressive Tense:

Active Voice: They are eating oranges.

Passive Voice: Oranges are being eaten by them.

3.Present Perfect Tense:

Active Voice: Has she completed the work?

Passive Voice: Has the work been completed by her?

4.Simple Past Tense:

Active Voice: He did not buy a book.

Passive Voice: A book was not bought by him.

5.Past Progressive Tense:

Active Voice: She was washing a shirt.

Passive Voice: A shirt was being washed by her.

6.Past Perfect Tense:

Active Voice: They had won the match.

Passive Voice: The match had been won by them.

7.Simple Future Tense:

Active Voice: She will write a poem.

Passive Voice: A poem will be written by her.

8.Future Perfect Tense:

Active Voice: He will have received the letter.

Passive Voice: The letter will have been received by him.

[Note: Passive voice cannot be formed for active voice sentences in the Present Perfect Continuous, Past Perfect Continuous, Future Continuous or Future Perfect Continuous.]

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Tips on using Voice:

Tip #1: Let

If the given sentence in the active voice is in the imperative form, to get the passive voice use ‘Let’. 

Formation of Passive Voice = Let + Object + be + Past Participle


Active: Help me.

Passive: Let me be helped.

Active: Open the door.

Passive: Let the door be opened.

Tip #2: Helping verbs like am, is, are, was, were, will, have, should, could, will

If the question in the Active Voice begins with a Helping verb the Passive voice must also begin with a suitable helping verb.

Active: Are you writing a letter?

Passive: Is a letter being written by you?

Active: Will you write a letter?

Passive: Will a letter be written by you?

What, When, Who, Why, How:

If the question begins with ‘Wh’ or How’ form (what, when, how, etc.) the Passive Voice must begin with the same. Only ‘who’ gets replaced by ‘By whom’.

Active: Why did you break the box?

Passive: Why was the box broken by you?

Active: Who broke the window?

Passive: By whom was the window broken?

Tip #3: Gerund, Infinitive

When used in passive form, gerund and Infinitive are formed differently.

Infinitive: passive is formed as ‘to be + past participle’

Active: I want to shoot the tiger.

Passive: I want the tiger to be shot.

Gerund: passive is formed as ‘being + past participle’

Active: I remember my father taking me to the theatre.

Passive: I remember being taken to the theatre by my father.

Tip #4: Direct and Indirect Object

If a sentence contains two objects namely Indirect Object and Direct Object in the Active Voice, two forms of Passive Voice can be formed.

Active: She brought me a cup of coffee.

Passive: (I) I was brought a cup of coffee by her.

Passive: (II) A cup of coffee was brought to me by her.

Object Complement: When made passive, these objects complements become subject complements; they come after the verb.

Active: They elected him their leader.

Passive: He was elected their leader.

Tip #5: Cases where ‘by’ is not used

With: use with in place of ‘by’ to talk about an instrument used by the agent/subject.

Active: Somebody hit the dog with a stick.

Passive: (I) The dog was hit by with a stick.

Passive: (II) The dog was hit by a boy.

Impersonal Passive: In scientific / technical / business writing, the emphasis is usually on the action or process. So the ‘by’ phrase is generally omitted.

Active: One finds mosquitoes everywhere.

Passive: Mosquitoes are found everywhere.

Tip #6: Cases where no passive form exists

Present perfect Continuous: She has been writing a letter.

Past perfect Continuous: He had been cleaning the house.

Future Continuous:will be filing all the documents tomorrow.

Future Perfect Continuous: I will have been serving tea for customers at this hotel for twenty years by then.

Intransitive verb which do not take objects: 

·      I eat.

·      I am living here.

·      I have travelled by train.

·      I went there.

·      I waited for a long time.

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Spot the Errors:

Each of the following sentences will contain a mistake in the Passive Voice form of the sentence. See if you can spot that mistake.’


Active: They sell books.

Passive: Books are being sold by them. (Incorrect)

Passive: Books are sold by them. (Correct)


Active: You are disturbing me.

Passive: I have been disturbed by you. (Incorrect)

Passive: I am being disturbed by you. (Correct)


Active: She has written two books.

Passive: Two books are written by her. (Incorrect)

Passive: Two books have been written by her. (Correct)


Active: Did he buy a car?

Passive: Had a car bought by him? (Incorrect)

Passive: Was a car bought by him? (Correct)


Active: Boys were singing songs.

Passive: Songs were sung by boys. (Incorrect)

Passive: Songs were being sung by boys. (Correct)


Active: He had collected stamps.

Passive: Stamps were being collected by him. (Incorrect)

Passive: Stamps had been collected by him. (Correct)


Active: They will arrange the party.

Passive: The party can be arranged by them. (Incorrect)

Passive: The party will be arranged by them. (Correct)


Active: She cleaned the table with a feather duster.

Passive: The table was cleaned by a feather duster. (Incorrect)

Passive: The table was cleaned with a feather duster by her. (Correct)


Active: Sing a song.

Passive: Let a song be sing. (Incorrect)

Passive: Let a song be sung. (Correct)


Active: Where can you hide this box?

Passive: How can this box be hidden by you? (Incorrect)

Passive: Where can this box be hidden by you? (Correct)

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Active & Passive Voice

Active Voice and Passive Voice: Active and passive voice meaning, Active voice to passive voice rules with examples and exercises


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