A Transitive Verb has two voices —
- The Active
- The Passive.
Compare the following:
- The hunter shot the lion.
- The lion was shot by the hunter.
You will see that both the sentences mean the same thing. But in the first sentence, the Subject (the hunter) is the doer of the action (shot). In the second sentence the Subject (the lion) is the sufferer or receiver of the action (was shot).
A Verb is said to be in the Active Voice when the person or thing denoted by the Subject acts or is active. [So the verb shot is Active],
A verb is said to be in the passive voice when the person or thing denoted by the subject does not a ;t, bat suffers the action done by the something or by someone.
So, the Verb was shot is Passive.
An Intransitive Verb is not used in the Passive Voice, unless it takes a Cognate Object in the Active as,
- Active: He has fought a good fight.
- Passive: A good fight ha been fought by him.
The Passive Voice is used when the Subject of the Active Voice is v unknown, unimportant or vague (e.g., people, they, a person, somebody).
He was killed in the last War.
The ship was sunk hardly a kilometre off shore.
Food was distributed free of charge.
His house was burgled last night.
When will the bell be rung?
The following table will help you to know how the Passive is formed in different tenses :
- Simple Present: am/is/are + past participle.
- Simple Past: was/where/ + past participle.
- Present Perfect: have/has been + past participle.
- Past Perfect: had been + past participle.
- Present Continuous: am/is/are being + past participle.
- Past Continuous: i was/were being + past participle.
From Active Into Passive
We can torn Active into Passive by taking the Object in the Active Voice and making it the Subject in the Passive Voice; as,
Active: Cats catch mice.
Passive: Mice are caught by cats.
Active: Children like sweets.
Passive: Sweets are liked by children.
Active: Sita is singing a song.
Passive: A song is being sung by Sita.
Active: Children are flying kites.
Passive: Kites are being flown by children.
Active: They have cut all telephone wires.
Passive: All telephone wires have been cut.
Active: Someone has stolen my watch.
Passive: My watch has been stolen.
Active: Do cats catch mice?
Passive: Are mice caught by cats?
Active: Does the grocer sell tea?
Passive: Is tea sold by the grocer?
Active: Has somebody broken the window?
Passive: Has the window been broken by somebody?
Active. The policeman caught the thief.
Passive. The thief was caught by the policeman.
Active. These boys stole my watch.
Passive. My watch was stolen by these boys.
Active. Sita was writing a letter to her father.
Passive. A letter was being written by Sita to her father.
Active. They were making a noise.
Passive. A noise was being made by them.
Active. They had not done their work.
Passive. Their work had not been done by them.
Active. They had won the match.
Passive. The match had been won by them.
Active. Did the policeman catch the thief?
Passive. Was the thief caught by policeman?
Active. Were the farmers ploughing the fields?
Passive. Were the fields being ploughed by the farmers?
Active. Had the boys eaten all the cakes?
Passive. Had all the cakes been eaten by the boys?
Active. We shall pardon her.
Passive. She will be pardoned by us.
Active. They will help us with money.
Passive. We shall be helped by them with money.
Active. I shall have written the letter.
Passive. The letter will have been written by me.
Active. You will have heard this news already.
Passive. This news will have been heard by you already.
Active. Will the postman deliver the letters?
Passive. Will the letters be delivered by the postman?
When a Transitive Verb has two Objects, either the Direct or the Indirect Object may become the Subject ‘of the sentence in the Passive; as,
Active. Raman lent me (Ind. Obj.) ten rupees (Dir. Obj.) 
Passive. I Was lent ten rupees by Raman /Ten Rupees were lent to me by Raman.
Active. I taught him (Ind. Obj.) English (Dir. Obj.)
Passive. He was taught English by me/English was taught to him by me.
Active. The king gave the commander a reward.
Passive. The commander was given a reward by the king./A reward was given to the commander by the king.
Active. They told me the truth.
Passive. The truth was told to me (by them)/ I was told the truth (by them).
Prepositional Object may also becomes the Subject
Active: They laughed at her. .
Passive: She was laughed at (by them). :
Passive Voice may also be used with Infinitives.
Active. They must do it at once. \
Passive. It must be done at once. ’
When the Subject is unknown or vague, it remains unexpressed in the Passive Voice. The agent with “by” is not needed.
Active. They made him general.
Passive. He was made general.
Active. They crowned him king.
Passive. He was crowned king.
Active. Someone has stolen my books.
Passive. My books have been stolen.
Active. People speak English all over the world.
Passive. English is spoken all over the world.
Active. You must answer all the questions.
Passive. All the questions must be answered.
Below are given some difficult Examples of the Active and Passive Voice
Active: All trust an honest man.
Passive: An honest man is trusted by all.
Active: Who taught her French1?
By whom was she taught French?
Active: Why did your father refuse such an honourable job?
Why was such an honourable job refused by your father?
Active: Whom did you laugh at?
Who was laughed at by you?
Active: Post this letter.
Let this letter be posted.
Active: Enter by the left door.
You are requested to enter by the left door.
Active: Do not insult the poor.
Passive. Let the poor be not insulted.
Active. Grass grew over the field.
Passive. The field was overgrown with grass.
Active. One should keep one’s promises.
Passive. Promises should be kept.
Active. The English expected to conquer Berlin.
Passive. It was expected by the English that they would conquer Berlin.
Active. They sold many tickets at the gate.
Passive. Many tickets were sold at the gate.
Active. The crowd expected him to arrive at ten.
Passive. He was expected to arrive at ten.
Active. You surprise me.
Passive. I am surprised.
Active. The railway company forbids passengers to cross the line.
Passive. Passengers are forbidden to cross the line.
NOTE: In the last four examples, the subject disappears in the use of the Passive.
The following instances require special attention :
Passive. He was called a fool.
Active. They called him a fool.
Passive. He was taught this in his boyhood.
Active. Somebody taught him this in his boyhood.
Passive. His pocket has been picked.
Active. Someone has picked his pocket.
Exercise 1: Put the following sentences into the Passive Form :
- Mohan reads novels.
- Children are plucking flowers in the park.
- They have done their homework.
- Women are washing their clothes.
- She has caught a beautiful butterfly.
- They have stolen our books.
- Who has written this letter?
- Did You abuse her
- Who discovered America?
- A Mad dog bit his sister.
- The boys were flying kites.
- The Farmers were ploughing their fields.
- They had done their duty.
- She had not confessed her guilt.
- I shall write a letter to her.
- We shall play the match tomorrow.
- The teacher will punish us for telling lies.
- We shall serve our country.
- Will your brother pay your fees today?
- You will have finished this work by tomorrow.
Exercise 2: Put the following sentences into the Passive Form:
- They found her guilty of murder.
- They fixed the time at ten o’clock.
- Manners make character.
- They kept us waiting.
- Our team scored three goals.
- Who killed the tiger?
- He will finish the work in about a week.
- Why did your brother give such a rude reply?
- A stone struck him on the head.
- The king gave her a reward.
- We refused them admission.
- All the boys laughed at him.
- They saw the clouds thundering.
- In Winter people bum a great deal of coal.
- Enter by the left door.
- Keep to the left.
- Give the order.
- She told us to leave the room.
- Let me do this.
- One should obey one’s parents.
- Who has broken the chair?
- The Headmaster promised us a holiday.
- They painted the doors green.
- We expect good news.
- Do not laugh at a beggar.
- One cannot gather grapes from thistles.
- I cannot agree to your proposal.
- This play surprised the visitors.
- Never deceive a friend.
- I forgive him all his faults.
Exercise 3– Put the following sentences into the Active Form :
- A lion may be helped even by a little mouse.
- The king was welcomed by the people.
- My cares are left behind.
- He was taken for a thief.
- He was known to be a kind man.
- Men have been ruined by gambling.
- War was declared against Germany by England.
- A present was brought for her by her lover.
- By whom was this letter written?
- We shall be cursed by everyone.
- The robber has been caught by the police.
- Why were you punished by the teacher?
- I was struck by her horrid look.
- Another chance was given to him by his employer.
- She was dismissed from service.
- A poor blind beggar was knocked down by a bus.
- The car was started with great difficulty.
- Three doses are to be taken daily.
- He was buried secretly.
- He was greatly distressed by the news.
- Our action was justified by the facts.
- The young soldier was brought before the king.
- He was not crowned king.
- The light was switched off.
- Not a word was spoken by the criminal in self-defence.
- Let this post be advertised.
- The telephone wires have been cut.
- Without hard work nothing great can be achieved.
- Why should we be suspended by you?
- They were refused admission.
Exercise 4: Turn the following sentences into the Passive Voice. No agents with “by” are required :
- Someone has stolen my pen.
- They speak English in Nagaland.
- They don’t like strangers in this town.
- They are servicing tea to the guests.
- They always ask some difficult questions in the Science examination.
- People always admire a courageous person.
- No one has opened that chest for the last hundred years.
- Someone has broken one of my dinner plates.
- They fought a big battle here, three hundred years ago.
- Somebody built this dharmashala last year.
- People speak English all over the world.
- No one has ever achieved greatness without effort.
- Did anyone ask any questions about me?
- One uses milk for making butter and cheese.
- The country expects us to do. our duty.
- Years ago, people believed that the earth was flat.
- They might know something about him at the police station.
- People tell many amusing stories about Birbal.
- They expected that Mr. Desai would join them.
- Now we know that the earth goes round the sun.
- Everybody admitted that he had done his best.
- The police were watching his movements very closely.
- Somebody told me that there had been an explosion in the Town Hall.
- They found him lying dead by the roadside.
- They still deny equal rights to women.