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VOICES: GRAMMAR

1

                                                        ACTIVE AND PASSIVE VOICE

Compare:

  1. Tris helps Tobias.

  2. Tobias is helped by Tris.


In sentence 1, the form of the verb shows that the person denoted by the subject does something. I.e. Tris( the person denoted by subject) does something. Therefore, the verb ‘helps’ is said to be an active voice.


In sentence 2, the form of the verb shows that something is done to the person denoted by the subject. I.e. Something is done to Tobias (the person denoted by the subject.) The verb ‘helped’ is said to be passive voice. 


Definition of voice: Voice is that form of the verb which shows whether what is denoted by the subject does something or has something done to it. 


Active Voice:-

  • A verb is in the active voice when its form shows (as in sentence 1) that the person or thing denoted by the subject does something; or in other words is the doer of the action. 

  • The active voice is so called because the person denoted by the subject acts.

  • It is used when the agent/doer must be made prominent. 


Passive Voice:-

  • A verb is in the passive voice when its form shows (as in sentence 2) that something is done to the person or thing denoted by the subject. 

  • The passive voice is so called because the person or thing denoted by the subject is not active but passive, that is, suffers or receives some action.

  • It is used when the person or thing acted upon must be made prominent. It is also used when an active voice would involve the use of indefinite or vague pronoun or noun i.e. when we don’t know who the agent is.


Examples of conversion:

  1. Active: Edward loves Will.

Passive: Will is loved by Edward.

  1. Active: Some boys are helping the wounded man.

Passive: The wounded man is being helped by some boys.

  1. Active: Who did this?

Passive: By whom was this done?


Note: when a verb is changed from active to passive, the object of the transitive verb in the active voice becomes the subject of the verb in the passive voice. Since, the object of the verb in the active voice becomes the subject in the passive form, it follows that only transitive verbs can be used in the passive voice, because an intransitive verb has no object.


The passive voice is formed with the suitable tense of the verb followed by the past participle. 

Refer to the table below for further details:-



Tense(or modal + base)Active voice    Passive Voice
Simple present

take

takes

am taken

is taken

are taken

Present continuous

am taking

is taking

are taking

am being taken

is being taken

are being taken

Present Perfect

has taken

have taken

has been taken

have been taken

Simple pasttook

was taken

were taken

Past continuous 

was taking

were taking

was being taken

were being taken

Past Perfecthad takenhad been taken
Simple future

will take

shall take

will be taken 

shall be taken

can/may/must, etc. + base

can take

must take

can be taken 

must be taken

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