Facts About Passive Voice


The passive voice is an essential aspect of English grammar. It helps us to emphasize the action and the receiver of the action, not the doer of the action. It is a significant way of adding linguistic diversity to your English sentences and improving your grammar knowledge. Understanding the passive voice's rules, structure, and usage can greatly improve your writing skills. Shifting the focus from the subject to the action itself can create an interesting and dynamic narrative. Let's delve into it.

What is Passive Voice?

Passive voice is a grammatical construction where the object of a sentence becomes the subject. The emphasis of the sentence is thus shifted from the doer of the action to the receiver of the action. The passive voice is generally used when the doer is unknown, unimportant, or you want to highlight the action or the recipient of the action.

For example:

  • Active: The cat chased the mouse.
  • Passive: The mouse was chased by the cat.
  • Structure of Passive Voice

    A passive sentence has the following structure:

  • Subject + auxiliary verb (be) + main verb (past participle) + by + agent
  • The 'be' verb changes according to the tense of the sentence, and the main verb is always in its past participle form, which is typically the verb's base form with 'ed'. The 'agent' is the performer of the action, and it is often left out if it is unknown or not important.

    Types of Passive Voice

    The passive voice can be used in different tenses. Each tense requires a different form of the auxiliary verb (be).

    Simple Present Passive

    The structure for this is: Subject + am/is/are + past participle verb

  • Example: The letter is written by me. (Active: I write the letter.)
  • Present Continuous Passive

    The structure for this is: Subject + am/is/are + being + past participle verb

  • Example: The song is being sung by her. (Active: She is singing the song.)
  • Simple Past Passive

    The structure for this is: Subject + was/were + past participle verb

  • Example: The cake was baked by John. (Active: John baked the cake.)
  • Past Continuous Passive

    The structure for this is: Subject + was/were + being + past participle verb

  • Example: The house was being painted by him. (Active: He was painting the house.)
  • Present Perfect Passive

    The structure for this is: Subject + has/have + been + past participle verb

  • Example: The homework has been completed by the students. (Active: The students have completed the homework.)
  • Future Passive

    The structure for this is: Subject + will + be + past participle verb

  • Example: The meeting will be attended by all employees. (Active: All employees will attend the meeting.)
  • When to Use Passive Voice

    We generally use the passive voice in the following scenarios:

  • When the action is more important than who or what is performing the action. Example: The robber was arrested. (We are more interested in the arrest action than who conducted it.)
  • When the subject is unknown or irrelevant. Example: My wallet was stolen. (We don’t know who stole the wallet.)
  • When we want to be vague about the subject. Example: Mistakes were made. (It is not specified who made the mistakes.)
  • Understanding Passive Voice with Examples

    Here are some examples that illustrate the conversion of sentences from the active voice to the passive voice:

  • Active: We write emails every day. Passive: Emails are written by us every day.
  • Active: The gardener watered the plants. Passive: The plants were watered by the gardener.
  • Active: Rachel is making a beautiful painting. Passive: A beautiful painting is being made by Rachel.
  • Active: The man has eaten the apple. Passive: The apple has been eaten by the man.
  • Summary

    Through this tutorial, we have learned that the use of passive voice can bring more diversity and flexibility to our language skills. Not only does it emphasize the performed action, but it also imparts a new layer of understanding to our sentences. Practice and constant exposure to different contexts using the passive structure will definitely enhance your command over it.

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