Active and Passive Voice

Active and Passive Voice are grammatical states in the English language that help to understand how the subject is expressed – the object of the action or its performer.

  •  Active Voice – indicates that the action in the sentence (predicate) is performed by the subject
  •  Passive Voice – indicates that the subject does not independently perform the action indicated in the sentence, but feels this action on himself, that is, is the object of this action

The passive state of verbs is formed using the verb to be and a past participle (the first form of regular verbs ending in -ed or the form given in the third column of Irregular verbs). At the same time, the verb to be changes according to tenses, persons and numbers, and the participle remains unchanged.

The Formula for Active Voice і Passive Voice

Present SimpleVam/ is/ are + V3
Present Continuousam/ is/ are + Vingam/ is/ are + being + V3
Present Perfecthas/ have + V3has/ have + been + V3
Past SimpleV2was/ were + V3
Past Continuouswas/ were + Vingwas/ were + being + V3
Past Perfecthad + V3had + been + V3
Future Simplewill + Vwill + be + V3
Future Perfectwill + have + V3will + have + been + V3
Modal Verbscan/ could/ should/ may/ might/ must + Vcan/ could/ should/ may/ might/ must +be + V3

An example of forming the passive voice of a verb

Present SimpleWe build the houseThe house is built
Present ContinuousWe are building the houseThe house is being built
Present PerfectWe have built the houseThe house has been built
Past SimpleWe built the houseThe house was built
Past ContinuousWe were building the houseThe house was being built
Past PerfectWe had built the houseThe house had been built
Future SimpleWe will build the houseThe house will be built
Future PerfectWe will have built the houseThe house will have been built
Construction to be going toWe are going to build the houseThe house is going to be built
Modal VerbsWe can build the houseThe house can be built

In the active voice, the subject (being or non-being) performs an action:

  •  Thieves stole a painting from the museum night

The passive voice is used when we are not interested in the performer of the action, but in the person or object on which the action is performed. That is why a word that denotes a person or an object becomes a subject in the passive voice:

  • A Minting was stolen from the museum last night

The use of verbs in the Passive Voice is characteristic of a business and scientific style:

  • The liquid was heated to 60 and then filtered

To indicate the performer or performers of the action, the preposition by is used next to the verb in the passive voice:

  • The painting was stolen by masked thieves

When talking about the object with which the action was performed, the preposition with is used:

  • She has drawn the picture with a pencil

In the passive svoiceate, the Future Continuous Passive is not used. The rest of the time forms are used according to the same rules as in the active voice.

Examples of use Passive Voice (we say what happens to the subject):

  • How old is this house? It was built in 1981
  • Two hundred people are employed by the company

Examples of use Active Voice (we say what the subject does):

  • My grandfather was a builder. He built this house in 1981
  • It’s a big company. It employs two hundred people

Passive Voice in English: Active and Passive Voice Rules and Useful Examples

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