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Active Passive Voice|All about Voice

Active Passive voice tense-wise rules

What is voice?( Active Passive voice tense-wise rules )

Voice is a grammatical category that applies to the verb in a sentence. It shows the relationship between the doer of an action (subject) and the receiver of that action. The action remains the same, but the focus changes depending upon the context. For example: • Do not cross the line. (Direct, crisp and to the point) • You must not cross the line. (Indirect and polite with firmness)


There are two types of voices in English.

  • Active voice

  • Passive voice

ACTIVE VOICE:When the verb shows that the subject does the action, the verb is in the active voice. Active Passive voice tense-wise rules

  • Example: Gurkirat sings a song.

  • Subject or agent –>  Gurkirat (subject or agent= one who does the action)

  • Sings–> verb (action that to be takes place)

  • a song–> object (one who receives that action).

In this sentence, the verb sings shows that the subject Gurkirat does the action. The verb sings is, therefore, said to be in the Active voice.

Active voice:

  • Focuses on the subject

  • Direct

  • Unambiguous (leading only to one conclusion)

  • Easy to understand

  • Useful in delegating responsibilities, giving orders to an individual or to a small group.

Using active voice makes meaning clear for the readers/listeners and keeps the sentence from being complicated and wordy.


When the verb shows that the Subject receives the action, the verb is said to be in the Passive voice.


  • A song is sung by Gurkirat.

In this sentence, the verb is sung shows that the action is done to the subject (‘Gurkirat’). The verb "is sung" is, therefore, said to be in the Passive voice.

 Active Passive voice tense-wise rules

Passive voice:

  • Subject is unknown

  • Indirect

  • Ambiguous

  • Unclear

  • formal


  • When the subject is unknown, unimportant and obvious.

  • To make polite statement and is used for general announcements. For example, in airports, railway station etc.

  • Risk of sounding boastful (arrogant).

  • When the action is more important than the “subject” (agent). (agent= one who does the action)

  • It+ passive. Some writers like to begin a sentence with “it”, followed by the Passive. For example, the following sentence concerns the options available to a woman has been attacked:

  • It is considered that in the last resort it is to civil remedies that she should have recourse.

  • It tends to sound rather formal and remote.

  • Example: 

  • Volunteers were sought to set up the tables.

We don’t mention the Agent in the passive voice when:

  • If we don’t know who has done what we are talking about.

           Example: My bike was stolen last night. (We don’t know who stole it)

  • If we are not interested in who has done what we are talking about or it is not important to mention it.


  • She has been taken to the hospital. (What we are interested in the fact that she has been taken to the hospital and not who has taken her.)

  • If it is easy to understand who did something without it being mentioned.

  • Example:

  • The murderer was arrested last night. (It is not necessary to mention that he has been arrested by the police because it is self-evident.)

  • If the subject of the active voice sentence is somebody, people, they, you etc. Active Passive voice (tense-wise rules) 

  • Example:

  • Someone broke the window.(active)

RULES TO CHANGE VERB FROM ACTIVE TO PASSIVE:To form the Passive voice, three things are important to change in a sentence.

  1. Form of verb “be” and third form of main verb.

  2. Interchanging of the Subject and the Object.

  3. Correct usage of “by” or other suitable preposition before the object.

Look at the following sentences: Active Passive voice tense-wise rules


  • Active: She writes a letter.

  • Passive: A letter is written by her.

  • In above sentence, we see that when a sentence is changed from Active to the Passive form, the object of the Active verb becomes the subject of the Passive verb.

  • Example:

  • Active: Women like ornaments.

  • Passive: Ornaments are liked by women.

Only sentences containing transitive verbs [verbs that takes one or more than one object(s)].

  • For example: paint, write, clean, sing etc.] can be changed from Active to Passive voice.

  • A Subject (doer of the action) is required to change a sentence from Passive to the Active voice.

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

  • Subject<————–>Object

  • I<————–>Me

  • You<————–>You

  • He/She <————->Him/her

  • It<————–>It

  • We<————–>Us

  • They<————–>the


Active Passive voice tense-wise rules

Different verbs and tenses Active voice

Structural patterns when changed into passive Voice Passive voice

Present simple

Active structure: subject+ verb(1)+object

Active: She writes the letters.

Passive structure: object+ am/is/are+ third form of verb+subject

Passive: The letters are written by her.

Past simple

Active structure: Subject+ verb's second form+ object.

Active : She wrote the letters.

Passive structure: object+ was/were+ third form of verb+subject

Passive: The letters were written by her.

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