Passive Voice: Definition, Examples of Active and Passive Voice

What is passive voice? Passive voice refers to a type of sentence or clause in which the subject receives the verb’s action. This article will help you understand what the passive voice is and show you some passive voice examples.

What is Passive Voice?

Passive voice definition: The passive voice is used when we want to emphasize the action (the verb) and the object of a sentence rather than the subject. This means that the subject is either less important than the action itself or that we don’t know who or what the subject is.

A passive sentence consists of

  • The subject
  • The verb to be in the correct tense.
  • The past participle of the verb needed.
  • Sometimes, the agent and/ or other complements

Form: SUBJECT + VERB + “TO BE” + PAST PARTICIPLE

Passive voice examples:

  • Tom painted the entire house.

-> The entire house was painted by Tom.

  • The director will give you instructions.

-> Instructions will be given to you by the director.

  • I will clean the house every Saturday.

-> The house will be cleaned by me every Saturday.

  • Someone killed twenty civilians in the bomb explosion.

-> Twenty civilians were killed in the bomb explosion.

  • Many people know Napa Valley for its excellent wines.

-> Napa Valley is known for its excellent wines.

  • He was writing a letter.

-> A letter was being written by him.

  • Michael is baking a brownie.

-> A brownie is being baked by  Michael.

Active vs Passive Voice Examples

Active vs passive voice examples for different tenses in English.

Each tense has its own passive voice which is created by using a form of the auxiliary verb to be + V3 (past participle).

Present Simple

Active: I read an interesting novel.

Passive: An interesting novel is read.

Present Continuous

Active: Mother is cooking lunch in the kitchen.

Passive: Lunch is being cooked in the kitchen.

Past Simple

Active: Leonaro Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa.

Passive: The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Past Continuous

Active: The salesman was helping the customer when the thief came into the store.

Passive: The customer was being helped by the salesman when the thief came into the store.

Present Perfect

Active: Mark has tricked me.

Passive: I have been tricked by Mark

Past Perfect

Active: She had done the drawing of her mother.

Passive: The drawing of her mother had been done by her.

Future Simple

Active: The director will give you instructions.

Passive: Instructions will be given to you by the director.

Future Be Going to

Active: Their children are going to learn English.

Passive: English is going to be learned by their children.

Modals

Active: She must deliver the letters.

Passive: The letters must be delivered.


Verbs
that have no object (no one to “receive” the action) cannot be put into the passive, such as, arrive, come, die, exist, go, happen, have, live, occur sleep, …All of the rules for passive negatives and questions are the same as for the active voice.

Active vs Passive Voice for All Tenses | Infographic

Active and Passive Verb Tenses

Active vs Passive Voice

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