Active and Passive Voice (Part One)

Skill: Grammar  

Category: General English & Academic English

Level: Upper-Intermediate

Active and Passive Voice (Part One)

All English sentences can be either active or passive. In an active sentence, the doer of the action comes first while in passive sentence, the subject becomes as the agent.

Reasons for using passive:

– When we want to be more impersonal and don’t mention the subject or doer of the action. We usually use it in scientific situations.

Ex: Rice is grown in South Africa.

– When the receiver of the action, object, is more important than the subject, it is recommended to use passive.

Ex: The wallet was stolen by a thief.

In this sentence stealing of wallet is more important than the one who did it.

– When the subject is indefinite pronouns, passive is preferred over the active

Ex: Someone built this ancient building in 2002.

This ancient building was built in 2002.

– When it is clear who carried out an action, or we don’t want to use a general subject like: teachers, people, they.

Ex: Students were trained to compete.

Ex: It is said that the countries will make a compromise about world peace.

Exercise: Discuss why these sentences are used in passive rather than active.

– My shoes were made in China.

– This essay is written by Melina.

– The Eifel Tower if visited by thousands of people every year.

To change an active sentence to passive, it is, first, important to know Transitive and Intransitive Verbs.

Transitive Verbs: Verbs that contain an object. 

Intransitive Verb: Verbs that do not contain any object. 

Common Intransitive Verbs:

            Agree                          exist                             sleep                            rise

            Come                           die                               stand                           wait

            Become                       go                                stay                              fall

            Talk                             sit                                seem                            flow

Changing an active to passive sentence

To change a sentence from active to passive, use the object of an active sentence as the subject of a passive sentence and the subject of an active sentence becomes part of by phrase.

Ex: Sonia broke the television.

Structure of the passive: Be + Past Participle.

                                By           Past Participle

Ex: She            is          taught              by Adam.

Ex: I will         be        helped             by Sara.

Exercise. Write (A) for active sentences and (P) for passive sentences.

1- _____________ My mom prepared the dinner.

2- _____________ Our papers were collected by examiner.

3- _____________ Mrs. Saylor painter her kitchen last Friday.

4- _____________ The president went back to his country with his group.

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