April 13, 2017

Active and Passive Voice

Given below are the two statements carrying the same meaning, but different forms of action/verb- active and Passive.

  • I washed the car. (Active voice)
  • The car was washed by me. (Passive voice)

Both the above mentioned statements express the same meaning yet there is difference in the form of verb used.

  • In the first statement, the form of the verb indicates that the person denoted by the subject (I) is the performer of the action. The verb washed is in the active voice.
  • In the second statement, the form of the verb shows that something is done to the subject (the car). Or the subject (car) has been acted upon. The verb washed is therefore in the passive voice.

A verb is in the active voice when its form indicates that the person or thing denoted by the subject performs an action. When the subject of the sentence is acted upon, the form of verb is passive.  Or in other words, a verb is in the passive voice when its form indicates that something is done to the person or thing (the subject)

In the following sentences, note the changes when an active sentence is converted into the passive.

  1. I made food. (Active)
  2. Food was made by me. (Passive)
  3. I tied the rope. (Active)
  4. The rope was tied by me. (Passive)
  5. Who made this drawing? (Active)
  6. By whom was this drawing made? (Passive)

You must have noticed that the verb changes its form when the sentence is changed from the active voice to the passive voice. The passive form of the verb is made by adding necessary auxiliary verbs before the past participle form of the active verb. In sentence 1, ‘I’ is the subject of the active verb made (Simple past of make). In sentence 2, Food is the subject of the passive verb ‘Made’. Only transitive verbs can be used in the passive voice. Intransitive verbs cannot be used in the passive voice because they do not have objects.

Active and Passive Voice Quiz

Question #1: The organization was founded in 1987.

Correct Answer : passive

Question #2: The computer lab was used by the Psychology class.

Correct Answer : passive

Question #3: The car was driven by his friend.

Correct Answer : passive

Question #4: Fifty people attended the party.

Correct Answer : active

Question #5: The plants were watered by the housekeeper.

Correct Answer : passive

Question #6: Ralph Lauren provided the anchor’s wardrobe.

Correct Answer : active

Question #7: The article was published on May 15, 2000.

Correct Answer : passive

Question #8: The album was released two weeks ago.

Correct Answer : passive

Question #9: The accountants shredded the papers.

Correct Answer : active

Question #10: The new policy was criticized by some senators.

Correct Answer : passive

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