Active and Passive Voice

An Action of a Subject, in relation to the Object can be expressed in two ways. These two ways of expressing the action are known as Voices in English Grammar.


  • I write a thesis.
  • A thesis is written by me.

Though, in the above examples, the meaning remains unchanged, the structure undergoes complete transformation.

We know that every sentence has a Subject, a Verb and an Object. Subject is the protagonist who works through the Verb on the Object, who is the recipient of the action.

To understand better the difference between the Active and the Passive Voice, we must pay heed to the sentence structure closely.

Active Voice used when the subject performs an action stated by the Verb.

In such a case, the Subject acts upon the object.

It follows the pattern of

·  Subject + Verb+ Object.

They are often used to lend impact and force to writing.


Passive Voice, on the other hand is used when the Subject is acted upon by the Verb.

 It follows the pattern of

·  Object+Verb+Subject

It is a more obtuse and roundabout way of stating the obvious. The sequence of Subject and Object is reversed in case of Active and Passive Voice.

Writers, across the world prefer the use of Active Voice to make their writing more direct, simple and impactful.

For Example:

Active Voice:     I ate 6 bananas.

Passive Voice:   6 bananas were eaten by me.           


Active Voice:     Weare going to watch a play this week.

Passive Voice:   A play is going to be watched by us this week.


Active Voice:   He bought a house.

Passive Voice: A house was bought by him.


Rules to be borne in mind while converting a sentence from Active to Passive:

Rule No. 1            The structure of sentence shall change. The position of Subject and Object shall reverse in case of Active and Passive Voice.

Active Voice:     He sings a song.

Passive Voice:   A song is sung by him.


Rule No. 2            The Past Participle of third form of Verb shall be sued in Passive Voice sentences for all tenses.

Active Voice:     Rahul eats an egg.

Passive Voice:   An egg is eaten by Rahul.


Rule No. 3            The word ‘by’ will precede the Subject in Passive Voice sentences.

Active Voice:     Ram hits the ball.

Passive Voice:   The ball was hit by Ram.


Rule No. 4           Other words like ‘with’ or ‘to’ may also be used in place of ‘by’ in Passive Voice sentences. However, such cases are rare.

Active Voice: I know him

Passive Voice: He is known to me.


Rule No. 5            The Auxiliary Verb undergoes a change in Passive Voice sentences depending upon the tense used in Active voice sentence, as per specific rules.

1.       Active Voice: The World over speaks English.

        Passive Voice: English is (be) spoken all over the world.

2.       Active Voice: They served the lunch.

        Passive Voice: The lunch was being (be) served.


Rule No. 6           It is not mandatory to have the Subject in the Passive Voice sentences. In many cases, the subject is left out, since it is implied and not stated.


Active Voice:          Someone has cleaned the car.

Paassive Voice:      The car was cleaned.

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