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Active Voice and Passive Voice

The Rule :

Active voice : Subject / Doer + (Verb + tense) + Direct object

Example 1: Rida drives a car.

Subject/ Doer : Rida + (drives: main verb: drive + Tense : simple present „s‟) + Direct object: a car.

There are two elements in the word ‘ drives’: infinitive + tense

Passive voice: Direct Object + (to be + tense) + Past participle of main verb+ by + Doer.

Transformation: A car is driven by Rida

Example2 with a different tense: Soumia is playing football. Direct object

Subject/ Doer Main Verb (play) +tense present continuous (is ing)


Passive voice: Football is being played by Soumia.


Direct Object + (to be + tense) + Past participle of main verb+ by + Doer.

Example3 with a different tense: The parrot spoke English. Direct object

Subject/ Doer Main Verb (speak) +tense = simple past (irregular form: spoke)


Passive voice: English was spoken by the parrot.. by + Doer.


Direct Object + (to be + tense = past simple) + Past participle of main verb
Aspects to take into consideration:

1. Transitivity: only transitive verbs are converted into passive voice

 The baby cries. The verb “cry” is intransitive. It doesn‟t need a direct object.
 This company produces cars. The verb “produce” is transitive. It needs a direct object.
2. The number :
 Active voice: This company (singular) produces cars. ( Direct object „cars‟: plural)
 Passive voice: Cars ( plural) are produced by this company.
3. Irregular verbs: infinitive : write – past simple : wrote – past participle: written
4. Regular verbs: visit – visited – visited

The Passive is used:
1. when the agent (=the person who does the action) is unknown, unimportant or obvious from the
Jane was shot. (We don’t know who shot her.)
This church was built in 1815. (Unimportant agent) He has been arrested. (Obviously by the police)
2. To make more polite or formal statements.
The car hasn’t been cleaned. (more polite) (You haven’t cleaned the car. – less polite)
3. When the action is more important than the agent, as in processes, instructions, events, reports,
headlines, new items, and advertisements.
Example: 30 people were killed in the earthquake.
4. To put emphasis on the agent. Example: The new library will be opened by the Queen.
5. if the subject of the active voice sentence is something like somebody, people, they, you, etc.
Someone broke the window. → the window was broken.


When we have verbs that take two objects like, for example, give somebody something, we can convert
the active sentence into a passive one in two ways:
Active voice: Rick gave me (indirect object) this book (direct object).
Transformation 1: I was given this book by Rick.
Transformation2: This book was given to me by Rick.

Pronouns: If the indirect object of the active voice sentence is a personal pronoun it has to be changed into
a subject pronoun to be the subject of the passive voice sentence.

IT ←→ T
You ←→ you We ←→ us
He ←→ him You ←→ you
She ←→ her They ←→ them
It ←→ it


Present Simple He delivers the letters. The letters are delivered.
Past Simple He delivered the letters. The letters were delivered.
Future Simple He will deliver the letters. The letters will be delivered.
Present Continuous He is delivering the letters. The letters are being delivered.
Past Continuous He was delivering the letters. The letters were being delivered.
Going to He is going to deliver the letters. The letters are going to be delivered.
Present Perfect He has delivered the letters. The letters have been delivered.
Past Perfect He had delivered the letters. The letters had been delivered.
Infinitive He has to deliver the letters. The letters have to be delivered.
Modals He must deliver the letters. The letters must be delivered.

Show whether Active Voice or passive voice

1. My father helps me. a. Active b. Passive

2. She has confessed her fault. a. Active b. Passive
3. The poor are helped by us. a. Active b. Passive
4. Where was the diary found by you? a. Active b. Passive
5. She had already taken the medicine. a. Active b. Passive
6. Would a cup of tea be taken by you? a. Active b. Passive
7. Promise should be kept. a. Active b. Passive
8. She will help me with money. a. Active b. Passive
9. Who will shut the door? a. Active b. Passive
10. The rose is sweet when smelt. a. Activeb. Passive
11. They did not expect me. a. Activeb. Passive
12. A bridge was being built. a. Activeb. Passive

Fill in the blanks

1. A song ......................................... by John. sung - sang - is sung

2. The spider ............................................ by the boy. Killed- was killed - killing
3. Let him .................................................. be helping - be helped
4. Maize ........................................ in the rainy season. Sown- is sowing - is sown
5. Is a letter ..................................... by you? been writing – writing- being written
6. A canal ................................................. by the workers. was digging- was being dug - been dug
7. The job ................................................ (by me) by the end of this week.
will finish- will be finished -will be finishing
8. Has your job ............................................ by you? been finished – finished- been finishing
9. He ......................................................... of his mother‟s death.
has informed- has been informed- was informing
10. All the necessary precautions .............................................. by them.
were taking - were taken - have taken

Exercise Put in the correct form of the verb in Passive into the gaps. Use the verb and the tense given in
Example: A letter __________ by Peter. (to write - Simple Present) Answer: A letter is written by Peter.

1) The words ________________________ by the teacher today. (to explain - Simple Present)
2) We ________________________ a letter the day before yesterday. (to send - Simple Past)
3) This car ________________________ . It's too old. (not/to steal - will-future)
4) This street ________________________ because of snow. (already/to close - Present Perfect)
5) A new restaurant ________________________ next week. (to open - will-future)
6) He ________________________ to the party yesterday. (to invite - Simple Past)
7) The blue box ________________________. (can/not/to see - Simple Present)
8) I ________________________ the book by my friend last Sunday. (to give - Simple Past)
9) The dishes ________________________ by my little brother. (not/to wash - Present Perfect)
10) I ________________________ by Robert. (not/to ask - will-future)

Exercise Rewrite the given sentences in Passive voice.

Example Frank builds a house. A house is built by Frank.

1) Mr Jones watches the film.____________________________________________________________.

2) The people speak English.____________________________________________________________.
3) He reads comics.____________________________________________________________.
4) We play volleyball.____________________________________________________________.
5) They sing the song.____________________________________________________________.
6) I take photos.____________________________________________________________.
7) She does the housework.____________________________________________________________.
8) The policemen help the children._________________________________________________________.
9) He writes text messages.____________________________________________________________.
10) Mother waters the flowers.____________________________________________________________.
Exercise 4 Rewrite the given sentences in Passive voice. Sometimes there are two possible answers (two
objects in the active sentence). Do not use contracted/short forms.
Example: Tim gave Lisa some flowers.
Some flowers were given to Lisa by Tim. Or Lisa was given some flowers by Tim.

1) They don't speak English in this shop._____________________________________________________.

2) Kevin asked Dennis a question.____________________________________________________________.
3) Somebody built the house last year.__________________________________________________________.
4) She gives him a box._____________________________________________________________________.
5) Max will look after him._________________________________________________________________.
6) The waiter brought Fred a big steak.__________________________________________________________.
7) Somebody broke into our bungalow last Friday.________________________________________________.
8) The teacher told us a joke.________________________________________________________________.
9) They will meet Doris at the station.__________________________________________________________.
10) Michael has not sent me a text message.______________________________________________________.

Exercise Rewrite the sentences using Passive voice.

Example: Peter writes a letter. A letter is written by Peter.
1) Julia rescued three cats.___________________________________________________________________.
2) The students handed in the reports.___________________________________________________________.
3) Maria crashed into the blue car.____________________________________________________________.
4) Alex learned the poem.__________________________________________________________________.
5) Steven has forgotten the book.____________________________________________________________.
6) The mechanic has not repaired the DVD recorder._______________________________________________.
7) They play handball.______________________________________________________________________.
8) Sue puts the rucksack on the floor.___________________________________________________________.
9) The girls have lost the match.____________________________________________________________.
10) The teacher is not going to open the window._________________________________________________.

Passive with Modals

Affirmative Object + may, must, can, could, ought to, should + be + verb3
Active : You must obey the traffic rules. Passive: The traffic rules must be obeyed.
Interrogative: Must, may, can, should, might + object + be + verb3 (past participle)

Exercise: Put into passive voice with modals

You may forget the rules quickly.
You should study the lessons repeatedly.
Benjamin must win the competition.
They should cancel the game.
The doctor can't persuade her.
They need to repair my car.
Should the thief pay the damage?

Change the following active sentences into passive voice.

1. I did not beat her. 2. I will never forget this experience. 3. Mother made a cake yesterday.
5. Did she do her duty? 6. The tiger was chasing the deer. 7. She has written a novel.
8. She has learned her lessons. 9. Have you finished the report? 10. The police have caught the thief.
11. My brother has completed the work. 12. Somebody stole my pen yesterday.
13. Our team may win the match. 14. Nurses look after patients.