Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Changing the Active verb into the Passive

When a sentence in the active voice is changed to the passive voice, the following changes occur:

1. The object of the active verb becomes the subject of the passive verb.
Alice invited John. (Active voice: subject – Alice; active verb – helped; object - John)
John was invited by Alice. (Passive Voice: subject – John; passive verb – was invited; object - Alice)
2. The verb changes its form according to the number and person of the subject.
have written a novel. (Subject – I; verb – have written)
A novel has been written by me. (Subject – a novel; verb – has been written)
3. The subject of the verb in the active voice becomes the object of the verb in the passive voice and is introduced with a preposition like by.
They built this house in 1990.
This house was built by them in 1990.
4. The active verb changes its form to become the passive voice.
am writing a letter. (Active verb – am writing)
A letter is being written by me. (Passive verb – is being written)

When the active verb has two objects

If the active verb has two objects, either of them can become the subject of the passive verb.
Ann will give you a present. (Active Voice)
You will be given a present by Ann. (Passive voice - indirect object becomes subject.)
A present will be given to you by Ann. (Passive voice - direct object becomes subject.)

Passive verb forms

Study the following table carefully and note how the verb write changes its form when it is changed to the passive.

TenseActive VerbPassive Verb
Simple Presentwrite/writesis/am/are written
Present continuousis/am/are writingis/are/am being written
Present perfecthas/have writtenhas/have been written
Simple pastwrotewas/were written
Past continuouswas/were writingwas/were being written
Past perfecthad writtenhad been written
Simple futurewill/shall writewill/shall be written
Future continuouswill/shall be writing-------------
Future perfectwill/shall have writtenwill/shall have been written

Perfect continuous forms of all three tenses are not used in the passive. Similarly future continuous tense is also not used in the passive.
TenseActive VoicePassive Voice
Simple PresentJohn writes a letter.A letter is written by John.
Present continuousJohn is writing a letter .A letter is being written by John.
Present perfectJohn has written a letter.A letter has been written by John.
Simple PastJohn wrote a letter.A letter was written by John.
Past continuousJohn was writing a letter.A letter was being written by John.
Past perfectJohn had written a letter.A letter had been written by John.
Simple futureJohn will write a letter.A letter will be written by John.
Future perfectJohn will have written a letter.A letter will have been written by John.

Changing imperative sentences into the passive

The imperative sentence in the passive voice takes the following form:
Let + object + be + past participle

When the active voice is in the negative, the passive voice takes the following form:
Let not + object + be + past participle

Help me. (Active Voice)
Let me be helped. (Passive Voice)
Do it at once. (Active Voice)
Let it be done at once. (Passive Voice)
Carry it home. (Active Voice)
Let it be carried home. (Passive Voice)
Do not beat the dog. (Active Voice)
Let the dog not be beaten. OR Let not the dog be beaten. (Passive Voice) 
Sometimes we want to begin the sentence with you so that the emphasis is on the person addressed. In such cases, the passive voice takes the following form:
Help me. (Active Voice)
Let me be helped. (Passive Voice)
You are requested to help me. (Passive Voice)
Don’t touch it. (Active Voice)
Let it not be touched. (Passive Voice)
You are warned not to touch it. (Passive Voice) 
The passive form has to begin with you, when the object of the verb in the active voice is not given.
Work hard. (No object) (Active Voice)
You are requested to work hard. (Passive Voice)
Get out. (No object) (Active Voice)
You are ordered to get out. (Passive Voice) 

Changing interrogative sentences into the passive

Read the following sentences.
Did she invite you? (Active Voice)
Were you invited by her? (Passive Voice)
Can anybody cure it? (Active Voice)
Can it be cured (by anybody)? (Passive Voice)
Who broke the window? (Active Voice)
By whom was the window broken? (Passive Voice)
What do you want? (Active Voice)
What is wanted by you? (Passive Voice)
Will you tell me a story? (Active Voice)
Will a story be told to me by you? (Passive Voice)
Have you finished work? (Active Voice)
Has the work been finished by you? (Passive Voice)
When will they announce the results? (Active Voice)
When will the results be announced (by them)? (Passive Voice) 

Rewrite the following sentences so that the verbs will be in the active voice.

1.    We are taught grammar by Ms Sullivan.
2.    He was praised by the teacher.
3.    The injured were taken to the hospital by the firemen.
4.    The town was destroyed by an earthquake.
5.    The teacher was pleased with the boy’s work.
6.    The building was damaged by the fire.
7.    By whom were you taught French?
8.    You will be given a ticket by the manager.
9.    The streets were thronged with spectators.
10.    We will be blamed by everyone.
11.    The trees were blown down by the wind.
12.    The thieves were caught by the police.
13.    The letter was posted by Alice.
14.    We were received by the hostess.
15.    The snake was killed with a stick.
16.    The minister was welcomed by the people.
17.    He was found guilty of murder.
18.    This house was built by John Mathews in 1991.
1.    Ms Sullivan teaches us grammar.
2.    The teacher praised him.
3.    The firemen took the injured to the hospital.
4.    An earthquake destroyed the town.
5.    The boy’s work pleased the teacher.
6.    The fire damaged the building.
7.    Who taught you French?
8.    The manager will give you a ticket.
9.    Spectators thronged the streets.
10.    Everyone will blame us.
11.    The wind blew down the trees.
12.    The police caught the thieves.
13.    Alice posted the letter.
14.    The hostess received us.
15.    They/somebody killed the snake with a stick.
16.    The people welcomed the minister.
17.    They found him guilty of murder.
18.    John Mathews built this house in 1991.

Change the following sentences into the passive.
1. This pot contains water.
2. They built this house in 1990.
3. She laughed at the beggar.
4. We will not help them.
5. The masons are building the house.
6. She has done her work.
7. Have you kept the secret?
8. They sent me a message.
9. He listened to me.
10. Did he stare at you?
1. Water is contained in this pot. 
2. This house was built in 1990 by them.
3. The beggar was laughed at by her.
4. They will not be helped by us.
5. The house is being built by the masons.
6. Her work has been done by her.
7. Has the secret been kept by you?
8. I was sent a message by them. OR A message was sent to me by them.
9. I was listened to me by them.
10. Were you stared at by him?

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