Voice refers to the form of verb which indicates whether the subject is the doer of the action or the receiver of the action. It shows whether a transitive verb acts or is acted upon. A transitive verb has two voices.

Active: Arav paints a picture. Passive: A picture is painted by Arav. Photo by cottonbro on
  1. Active voice
  2. Passive Voice


A verb is said to be in the active voice when the emphasis is on the doer or the subject. We say that the verb is in the active voice when the subject is the doer of the action.

 Example:      Arav                  paints        a picture.

                      Subject (doer) ↑ –    verb↑ 

Here Arav is the doer of the action. The verb ‘paints’ is said to be in the active voice. 


A verb is said to be in the passive voice when the emphasis is on the receiver or the object. We say that the verb is in the passive voice when the subject is the receiver of the action.

Example :    A picture                        is painted      by        Arav.

                     Subject (receiver) ↑       verb↑ 

Here the subject is a picture. The verb ‘painted is said to be in the passive voice. The subject is acted upon or suffers the action.      

  [  Active = doing        :      Passive = suffering or receiving  ]


The following changes are done while changing a sentence from active voice to passive voice.

  • The object and subject change their places in the passive voice.

                                                 (Active verb form)

Active:       The cat                    chased                        the mouse.

Passive:      The mouse              was chased     by       the cat.   

                                               (Passive verb form)

  • A form of the helping (Be verb) is used according to the tense, number and person of the subject.
            ACTIVE VOICE              PASSIVE VOICE
Arav paints a picture.A picture is painted by Arav.
Arav paints two pictures.Two pictures are painted by Arav.
Arav painted a picture.A picture was painted by Arav.
  • . The past participle of the verb is used after the helping verb.
  • The preposition ‘by’ is added where the agent is important and necessary to complete the sense.

E.g. a) Active :      Arav stole my pendrive.

           Passive :     My pendrive was stolen by Arav.

        b)  Active :    Someone stole my pendrive.

             Passive :   My pendrive was stolen.     (as the agent the agent is not important we do not use ‘by’)

  • If an active verb is followed by a preposition, it is retained when the voice is changed into passive.

              Active: The teacher gave question papers to the students.

              Passive: Question papers were given to the students by the teacher.

  • When the active verb has two objects, one direct and the other indirect, either of them becomes the subject and the other is retained as object in the passive voice.

              Active: Sal gave me a book. [‘Me’ – indirect object, Book – direct object.]

              We may use either of the objects as the subject in the passive voice.

              Passive: A book was given to me by Sal.


             Passive : I was given a book by Sal.


Active Voice is used when the doer of the action is to be made prominent and we know the doer of the action.


Passive voice is used when we do not know who the doer of the action is.

          My purse was stolen at the shopping mall.

It is used when the action is more important than the doer of the action.

         The pandemic started in December 2019. (we are more interested in the action)


          TENSE       ACTIVE VOICE           PASSIVE VOICE
Simple Present He flies a kite.A kite is flown by him.
Present ContinuousHe is flying a kite.A kite is being flown by him.
Present PerfectHe has flown a kite.A kite has been flown by him.
Simple pastHe flew a kite.A kite was flown by him.
Past ContinuousHe was flying a kite.A kite was being flown by him.
Past perfectHe had flown a kite.A kite had been flown by him.
Simple futureHe will fly a kite.A kite will be flown by him.
Future ContinuousHe will be flying a kite.No passive voice
Future PerfectHe will have flown a kite.A kite will have been flown by him.

Changing Simple Present/ Past/ Future sentences into Passive Voice.

Object of active voice + be-verb + past participle (V3) + agent

Simple Present –   A kite is flown by him.

Simple Past       –   A kite was flown by him.

Simple Future   –   A kite will be flown by him.

Changing  Present/ Past Continuous Sentences into Passive – Voice

Object of active voice + be- verb+ being + past participle (V3) + agent

Present Continuous  –  A kite is being flown by him.

Past Continuous        –  A kite was being flown by him.

(No Future continuous Passive Voice)

Changing  Present/ Past/ Future Perfect Sentences into Passive – Voice

Object of active voice + have-verb + been + past participle (V3) + agent

Present Perfect    –  A kite has been flown by him.

Past Perfect          –  A kite had been flown by him.

Future Perfect     –  A kite will have been flown by him.


The imperative sentences in the passive voice takes this form-

Let + object + be + past participle (V3) [ Assertive sentence]

Active:  Do the work now

Passive: Let the work be done.

Let not  + object + be + past participle  (V3) [Negative sentence]

Active: Do not leave the door ajar.

 Passive: Let not the door be left ajar.

                      ACTIVE VOICE                    PASSIVE VOICE
           Take this medicine.        Let this medicine be taken.
           Do not make a noise.        Let no noise be made.
           Shut the door.        Let the door be shut.
           Give her the file.        Let the file be given to her.


There are two types of interrogative sentences-

  1. Sentences beginning with wh- words

Active : Who killed the tiger?

Passive: By whom was the tiger was killed?

[Who in active voice becomes ‘by whom in the passive voice. If there is ‘Do/ Does/ Didin the active voice, you will have to use be-verbs in the Passive voice.]

                    ACTIVE VOICE                          PASSIVE VOICE
Who wrote Macbeth? By whom  Macbeth was written?
Who belled the cat?By whom was the cat belled?
What will you do?What will be done by you?
Where did you see this man?Where was this man seen by you?
What do you want?What is wanted by you?
Whom did you laugh at?Who was laughed at by you?
When will he buy a car?When will a car be bought by him?
When will they announce the results?When will the results be announced?
Why did he punish you?Why were you punished by him?
Which shirt do you like?Which shirt is liked by you?
 What can you do with a fruit?What can be done with a fruit by you?
Why will they buy the land?Why will the land be bought by them?
  • Sentences beginning with verbs.  [ Sentences beginning with verbs are of two types]
  •  Those beginning with Do/ does/ did
  • Those beginning with other auxiliaries (is, am, was, can, would …) 

                     Active:  Did you do the work?

                     Passive: Was the work done by you?

                     Active : Can you write poetry?

                     Passive : Can poetry be written by you?

                       ACTIVE VOICE        PASSIVE VOICE
 Have you finished the work?Has the work been finished by you?
Do you visit your grandparents?Are your grandparents visited by you?
Did you teacher praise you?Were you praised by your teacher?
Are you writing English?Is English being written by you?
Does she like ice-creams?Are ice-creams liked by her?
Can you help the needy?Can the needy be helped by you?
Did she see the film?Was the film seen by her?


  • Sentences in Passive voice generally end with ‘by- clause’. But sometimes the ‘by-clause is omitted when the stress is on the action rather than the doer of the action or the agent.

    Passive:           The gang was nabbed.

    Passive:       The movie was made in the 80’s.

    Passive:   The shop was closed.

  • If the agent is implied not stated in Passive voice we use ‘people, one, someone, authority, I, she, they…’ as subject of in active voice.
               ACTIVE VOICE              PASSIVE VOICE
 Smoking is prohibited.The authority prohibits smoking.
Tresspassers will be prosecuted.Someone will prosecute tresspassers.
The giant was slain.Someone slew the giant.
English is spoken all over the world.People speak English all over the world.
Punctuality must be maintained.One must maintain punctuality.


  • In some passive sentences the agent is preceded by some other preposition instead of ‘by’.
             ACTIVE VOICE                PASSIVE VOICE
She knows him. He is known to her.
Astronomy interests him.He is interested in astronomy.
Their politeness surprised me.   I was surprised at their politeness.
Her behaviour pleased everyone.Everyone was pleased with her behaviour.



  • Infinitives after ‘be’ or ‘have’ verbs can be changed into Passive Voice.
                       ACTIVE VOICE                 PASSIVE VOICE
There is no time to lose.There is no time to be lost.
There is a lot to do.There is a lot to be done.
They are to do this work. This work is to be done by them.
There are two blogs to post.There are two blogs to be posted.


  • If the verb takes an object and infinitive after it the infinitives remain the same in the passive voice.
                        ACTIVE VOICE                          PASSIVE VOICE
We know him to be an actor.He is known to be an actor by us
Sam told her to write an essay.She was told to write an essay by Sam.



If the negative sentences contain do/does/did auxiliary that do-verb will be omitted in the passive and be-verb will be used. ‘Not’ will be placed between the be-verb and the main verb.

                  ACTIVE VOICE                    PASSIVE VOICE
    They can never win the match. The match can never be won by them.
    Doesn’t she speak Spanish? Is Spanish not spoken by her?
    He should not refuse the offer.The offer should not be refused by him.
     She does not love her friend.Her friend is not loved by her.


These verbs are active in form but passive in sense, and can be used transitively or intransitively with different subjects.

           ACTIVE VOICE                  PASSIVE VOICE
Honey tastes sweet.Honey is sweet when tasted.
The gate opened.The gate was opened.
The book is selling like hot cakes.The book is being sold like hot cakes.
The cookies have sold over a hundred pieces.The cookies have been sold over a hundred pieces.



                        ACTIVE VOICE                           PASSIVE VOICE
We must endure what we cannot cure.What cannot be cured must be endured.
Everyone thought that it was an earthquake.It was thought by everyone that it was an earthquake.
Active : She is writing a story. Passive: A story is being written by her. Photo by Liam Anderson on

2 thoughts on “ACTIVE and PASSIVE VOICE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.