Active and Passive Voice

Remember there are two ways to express the action; one is where subject is active (active voice) and in other way subject is passive (passive voice)

  • Active voice (subject is doing something)
  • Passive voice (something is done be the subject)

Active and passive voice both are frequently used in written and spoken language. Active voice is something used in a normal language whereas passive voice is used in report writing, because in reports subject is not important. It is rather a job that is important.

  • I have observed that. (incorrect way of writing report)
  • It is observed that. (correct way of writing report)

While having some close examination of language it is quite evident that passive voice is mostly used in our language.

Examples

  • It is reported to me.
  • He is said to have broken rules.
  • It is said that.
  • This is understood.
  • Books are used to study.
  • This instrument must be used properly.

Transitive Verb
Sentences with the transitive verb can only be converted into passive voice. Transitive verb is the one with many times without preposition and where the verbal action does not transfer to the object. To read more details visit the page of Verb.

Some Basic Kinds of Voices
Remember there are many kinds of voices and they are changed into passives in a bit different way. The kinds are as follows.

  1. Simple Voices
  2. Interrogative Voices with who
  3. Voices with Modal Operators
  4. Imperative Voices

They are explained in detail as under.

Simple Voices
Simple Voices are those which are of simple tenses. The auxiliaries used are the auxiliaries of tenses. There are neither operators nor imperatives nor interrogative with who.

Rules for the Simple Voices
There are some rules for the simple voices. Since these rules are generally adopted in all the forms of voices that’s why they are very much necessary to be known and followed. These four rules are as follows

  1. Convert Subject into Object
  2. Convert Object into Subject
  3. Use 3rd form
  4. Use by with Objects

Examples

  1. He makes a mistake. (active voice)
    A mistake is made by him. (passive voice)
  2. He is making a mistake. (active voice)
    A mistake is being made by him. (passive voice)
  3. He has made a mistake. (active voice)
    A mistake has been made by him. (passive voice)

In the above examples there are three sentences that are converted into passive voice. All the above rules are followed. In all cases he which is subject is converted into him which is object; Past Participle form (3rd form) made is used in all passives; object mistake is made subject and by is used. These are some basic rules, but what about the words that are underlined. Of course they are auxiliaries (helping verbs), and for auxiliaries there are some more rules to be followed.

Rules for the auxiliaries

  1. If the sentence is of Indefinite Tense auxiliaries of Continuous are used in passives.
  2. In case of the sentence of Continuous Tense the word being is additionally used in passives.
  3. In case of Perfect Tense the word been is additionally used in passives.

In the above examples first example is of Present Indefinite Tense that’s why auxiliary is which is used in the Present Continuous Tense is applied. The second example is of Present Continuous Tense and being is used in passive, whereas third example is of Present Perfect and been is used. If you change tense from present to past or future still the case will be the same.

Examples of Indefinite Tenses

  1. He makes a mistake. (active voice)
    A mistake is made by him. (passive voice)
  2. He made a mistake. (active voice)
    A mistake was made by him. (passive voice)
  3. He will make a mistake. (active voice)
    A mistake will be made by him. (passive voice)

Examples of Continuous Tenses

  1. He is making a mistake. (active voice)
    A mistake is being made by him. (passive voice)
  2. He was making a mistake. (active voice)
    A mistake was being made by him. (passive voice)

Examples of Perfect Tenses

  1. He has made a mistake. (active voice)
    A mistake has been made by him. (passive voice)
  2. He had made a mistake. (active voice)
    A mistake had been made by him. (passive voice)
  3. He will have made a mistake. (active voice)
    A mistake will have been made by him. (passive voice)

Tenses that cannot be converted

There are four following tenses that cannot be converted into passive voice.

  • Present Perfect Continuous Tense
  • Past Perfect Continuous Tense
  • Future Perfect Continuous Tense
  • Future Continuous Tense