Active and Passive Voice

Active Voice

Look at this sentence:

Heidi fed her cat.

The sentence above is in the Active Voice. In such a sentence, the 'doer' of an action is mentioned first.

More examples:

Tom decorated the living room.

Sally baked the cake.

I bought the fruits.

Someone stole Henry's car.

Sam painted the kennel.

My dad paid the bills.



Passive Voice

The verb in the Passive Voice is formed by combining the verb to be and a past participle. (Examples of the verb 'to be': am, is, are, was, were, have been, has been, had been, etc.)

Verb 'to be' + Past Participle

Examples:

is + written = is written

are + made = are made

was + done = was done

were + opened = were opened

has been + read = has been read

have been + sold = have been sold

The gate is locked every evening.

Many cars are sold every month.

My homework was done this morning.

The windows were opened just now.

My bad tooth has been extracted.

The kid's toys have been broken.


We use the passive voice when:

(i) the 'doer' of the action is not known.

Examples:

Active : Someone has stolen my bicycle.

Passive : My bicycle has been stolen.


Active : Someone delivers the newspaper every morning.

Passive : The newspaper is delivered every morning.


Active : Someone broke our windows last night.

Passive : Our windows were broken last night.


(ii) we want to stress that the action is more important than the 'doer'. The 'doer' of the action is excluded.

Examples:

Active : He has written the essay.

Passive : The essay has been written.


Active : They will hold a meeting tomorrow.

Passive : A meeting will be held tomorrow.


Active : The students will sing the national anthem.

Passive : The national anthem will be sung.

Note:

The 'doer' of the action is included when it is necessary to complete the sense of the sentence.

Examples:

Active : A snake bit her last week.

Passive : She was bitten by a snake last week.


Active : Rudyard Kipling wrote 'The Jungle Book'.

Passive : 'The Jungle Book' was written by Rudyard Kipling.


Active : Michael King hosted the show last evening.

Passive : The show was hosted by Michael King last evening.


Exercises

A. Rewrite these sentences, changing them into the passive voice. Leave out the 'doers' of the actions.

e.g.

Someone delivered these documents just now.

These documents were delivered just now.

1. Someone burnt the hut yesterday.

2. People built the Great Wall of China long ago.

3. Someone repaired the television last week.

4. Someone wrote the book in 1972.

5. People chose him to be the headman.

6. Someone saw him stealing the ring.

7. Somebody switched on the radio just now.

8. People planted the fruit trees a few years ago.

9. Someone freed the bird.

10. Someone scribbled over the table.


B. Rewrite these sentences, changing them into the passive voice. Include the 'doers' of the actions.

e.g.

Jennifer has donated the old clothes to the orphanage.

The old clothes have been donated to the orphanage by Jennifer.

1. Ivan posted the letters.

2. Judy has vacuumed the floor.

3. My father will pay the telephone bill tomorrow.

4. The workmen have repaired the road.

5. Amy will prepare supper tonight.

6. Larry has served all the guests.

7. Amanda wrote this song last week.

8. The boss will employ a few new workers.

9. The police have blocked this road.

10. My servant boiled the water this morning.


Answers

A.

1. The hut was burnt yesterday.

2. The Great Wall of China was built long ago.

3. The television was repaired last week.

4. The book was written in 1972.

5. He was chosen to be the headman.

6. He was seen stealing the ring.

7. The radio was switched on just now.

8. The fruit trees were planted a few years ago.

9. The bird was freed.

10. The table was scribbled over.

B.

1. The letters were posted by Ivan.

2. The floor has been vacuumed by Judy.

3. The phone bill will be paid by my father tomorrow.

4. The road has been repaired by the workmen.

5. Supper will be prepared by Amy tonight.

6. All the guests have been served by Larry.

7. This song was written by Amanda last week.

8. A few new workers will be employed by the boss.

9. This road has been blocked by the police.

10. The water was boiled by my servant this morning.