April 18, 2017

Active or Passive Voice

The active voice is used when the performer (i.e, the doer of the action) is to be made responsible. The passive voice is used when the person or thing acted upon is to be made responsible. The passive voice is therefore used when the doer of the action is an indefinite pronoun or noun (e.g. somebody, anybody, they, people, we etc.)

  • My car was stolen. (Passive)
  • Somebody has stolen my car. (Active)

In the above given example, the passive verb is preferred because we don’t know who  is the doer of the action. Compare:

John has stolen my car. (More natural than ‘My car has been stolen by John.)

Here the stress is on John, and we are holding him responsible and therefore we use the active form.

In the statements mentioned below, the passive forms are usually used because the subject is unknown or indefinite.

  1. I was made to sing. (Passive)
  2. They asked me to sing. (Active)
  3. I was told to do 10 sit-ups. (Passive)
  4. They told me to do 10 sit-ups. (Active)
  5. Mexican food is loved all over the world. (Passive)
  6. People all over the world love Mexican food. (Active)

In passive voice statements, we rarely have to mention the performer of the action. In 80% of the cases we don’t need to mention the performer/doer.  In case we have to mention the performer/doer of the action, the usual construction of the statement  is SUBJECT+ ACTION PERFORMED + BY WHOM. Examples:

  • The wall is being painted by me.(Passive)
  • The floor is being cleaned by David. (Passive)

Active or Passive Voice Quiz

Question #1: It gets cold here during the winter.

Correct Answer :  active

Question #2: The police didn’t find the robber last week.

Correct Answer :  active

Question #3: The first fast food restaurants were opened in the USA in 1916. 

Correct Answer :  passive

Question #4: The train is going to arrive late.

Correct Answer :  active

Question #5: The search will be stopped because of the storm.

Correct Answer :  passive

Question #6: The friends have been looking forward to meeting her.

Correct Answer :  active

Question #7: The problem was solved.

Correct Answer :  passive

Question #8: The stunt man risked his life.

Correct Answer :  active

Question #9: The fire was extinguished.

Correct Answer :  passive

Question #10: The car was being cleaned by its owner.

Correct Answer :  passive

Interesting Quizzes