The moment we say active and passive voice, several might fret. Even though an advanced concept of elementary grammar, it is one that an English learner cannot do without. But why? What’s the problem in using either voice? Does it have to be specific? All of these questions are valid. We are going to answer just those questions for you. Before we jump deeper into this concept, click here to get a quick recap on our previous lesson about modals.
Active and Passive Voice
The two voices of English grammar are Active Voice and Passive Voice.
When the subject of a sentence acts to form a verb, we say the sentence is in the active voice. In other words, the subject receives more emphasis than the verb.
For example, Sandra threw the ball.
In the above sentence, the subject, Sandra performs an action. The action is throwing the ball. As observed, it gives out a clear description of what is happening. When a sentence is in the active voice, it usually answers the question of who. Based on this example, we could ask, Who three the ball? The answer would be Sandra. So the focus/emphasis remains on the subject, and not on the verb.
Unlike active voice, passive voice isn’t as direct. We need to conjugate the past participle form of the verb for a passive sentence. Meaning, the focus remains more on the verb, than on the subject. Such a sentence throws emphasis on the action performed by the subject.
For example, The ball was thrown by Sandra.
Much like in this sentence, the verb is being acted upon by the subject. The object receives more emphasis than the subject in a passive sentence.
Sentences in the passive voice are weaker in comparison to sentences in the active voice. Passive sentences do not convey the meaning directly, are sometimes worrier and sometimes even complicated to understand.
Active sentences, on the other hand, convey a direct message, are mostly shorter, and easier to understand.
Most people prefer writing in the active voice for the reasons mentioned above. These sentences are also easier to frame. They cut a lot of unnecessary words from the sentence, therefore making the writing reader-friendly.
Additionally, several writers vouch for the use of active voice over passive voice to reach their audience more clearly.
Yet, understanding the difference between the two, and knowing how to switch to active voice from passive voice and vice-versa is an important concept of elementary grammar.
In this section, let us take a look at some examples of transformation between active voice and passive voice.
(I) Active Voice- The manager will give you a ticket.
Passive Voice- A ticket will be given to you by the manager.
(ii) Active Voice– Who taught you French?
Passive Voice– By whom was French taught to you?
(iii) Active Voice– We prohibit smoking.
Passive Voice– Smoking is prohibited by us.
(iv) Active Voice– We refused them admission.
Passive Voice– Admission was refused to them by us.
(V) Active Voice- The horse was frightened by the sudden noise.
Passive Voice- The sudden noise frightened the horse.
Now you have a good hold on active and passive voice. Try transforming the following sentences. You can leave your answers in the comment section below for follow-learners.
- The dog chased the sheep.
- The pony will be brought by David.
- They asked me my name.
- The captive was bound to the tree.
- A stone struck me on the head.
- He handed her a chair.
- They made him the king.
- The information is kept on your computer.
- We shall be blamed by everyone.
- Do not insult the weak.