CBSE English Grammar

Active and Passive Voice

. Consider the following sentences :Lata sings a song.A song is sung by Lata.There is practically no difference in the meanings of these two sentences. These are two different ways of presenting the same thing. But in the first sentence the Subject performs the action while in the second sentence, the Subject of the Verb is acted upon.Thus, the voice shows whether the Subject of a Verb acts or is acted upon.Active Voice : When the Subject of a Verb acts, the Verb is said to be in the Active Voice ; as—I made a mistake.Passive Voice : When the object of the Active Voice becomes the Subject, the Verb is said to be in the Passive Voice ; as—A mistake was made by me.The Subject dominates in Active Voice but the Object dominates in Passive Voice.

Note. It is only the form of the verb in a sentence which shows whether the subject is the doer or the receiver of the action. A sentence in passive voice may or may not have the ‘by’ phrase attached. Thus in the above sentences, ‘A mistake was made’ is a complete sentence.

2. Rules for changing a Verb from the Active Voice into the Passive Voice :

1. The object of the Active Verb is made the Subject of the Passive Verb.2. The Subject of the Active Verb is made the object of some Preposition (generally ‘by’).3. The Verb of the Active Voice gets the Past Participle form of the Finite Verb and some form of the verb ‘to be’ (be, is, am, are, has been, have been, was, were, had been, will be, is being, will have been, etc.) will be used before it in the passive voice.4. Some vague and indefinite subjects like ‘everyone’, ‘they’, ‘people’, ‘someone’, ‘somebody’, ‘everybody’, ‘anybody’, etc. are dropped if they are the subjects of the active voice. If so, the preposition ‘by’ is also not used.5. The Tense of the Verb does not change.

Example: He has done his work. (Active)His work has been done by him. (Passive)

3. The Pronouns (when these act as subject) are changed as given below:

Subject   Object
I becomes me
We becomes us
You becomes you
She becomes her
He becomes him
They becomes them
It becomes it
Who becomes whom

4. The following table gives the form of the verb ‘see’ in Passive Voice in the various Tenses :

Tense Chart (Passive Voice’)


Indefinite Continuous


Present is/am/are + verb in third formis seenam seenare seen is/am/are + being + verb in third formis being seenam being seenare being seen has/have + been + verb in third formhas been seenhave been seen
Past was/were + verb in third formwas seenwere seen was/were + being + verb in third formwas being seenwere being seen had + been + verb in third formhad been seen
Future will/shall + be + verb in third formwill be seenshall be seen — No change will/shall + have been + verb in third formwill have been seenshall have been seen


Note. The following four types of sentences cannot be changed into passive voice:1. Present Perfect Continuous.2. Past Perfect Continuous.3. Future Continuous.4. Future Perfect Continuous.
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