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Active And Passive Voice

Active voice

Definition: In active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action indicated by the verb, and the object receives the action.


  • She is writing a story.

    Here, the subject of the sentence is "she", which is doing the action. And "story" is the object, which receives the action of the verb "writing".

  • He is doing his homework.

Active voice

Passive voice

Definition: In passive voice, the subject receives the action, and the person who is performing that action comes at the end of the sentence. Sometimes it is unknown or less important.

In passive voice, we give importance to the action, instead of the person who is doing that action.


  • A story is being written by her.

  • His homework is being done by him.

In the first example, "a story" is the subject, but it is not doing any action. It is acted upon by other person or the agent, who performs that action. Here "her" is used as an agent.

How to form Passive Voice?

Rearrange the subject and the object of the sentence in active voice using the rule: subject + to be + participle form of the verb + BY + object

Tense Active Passive
Present simple Mary writes stories. Stories are written by Mary.
Present continuous Sarah is making a dress. A dress is being made by Sarah.
Present perfect Marry has written a story. A story has been written by Mary.
Past simple He built this house. This house was built by him.
Past continuous Molly was doing that work. That work was being done by Molly.
Past perfect Mike had cleaned this room. This room had been cleaned by Mike.
Future simple Molly will sing a song. A song will be sung by Molly.
Future continuous She will be cleaning the carpet. The carpet will be being cleaned by her.
Future perfect She will have cleaned the carpet. The carpet will have been cleaned by her.
Conditional She would make a dress. A dress would be made by her.

Active and Passive Voice with Modal verbs:

When changing active voice with modal verb in to the passive voice, the word "be" is added after the modal verb.

Structure of the sentence in passive voice will be: subject + modal verb + "be" + participle form of the verb + "by" + agent

Modal Active Passive
Can Mary can writes a story. A story can be written by Mary.
May Sara may buy a dress. A dress may be bought by Sara.
Might Lily might play this game. This game might be played by Lily.
Should You should read this book. This book should be read by you.
Must She must eat green vegetables. Green vegetables must be eaten by her.

Active and Passive Voice with Imperative Sentences:

Imperative sentences are used for giving commands or orders, making requests and giving instructions. Passive voice for imperative sentences starts with the word "Let", and the word "be" is added before the correct participle form of the verb.

Therefore the structure of an imperative sentence in passive voice is: "Let" + subject + "be" + past participle

Active Passive
Call the doctor. Let the doctor be called.
Open the window. Let the window be opened.
Finish your work. Let your work be finished.
Clean this room. Let this room be cleaned.

Active and Passive of Question or Interrogative sentences:

Active Passive
Are you reading a book? Is a book being read by you?
Does Max play tennis? Is tennis played by Max?
Did Alice make the cake? Was the cake made by Alice?
Have you played tennis? Has tennis been played by you?
Who made this dress? By whom was this dress made?
Which bag did you buy? Which bag was bought by you?

Note: Intransitive Verbs can not form passive voice, because there is no one to receive the action. They do not have direct object.

Examples of Intransitive Verbs: come, go, arrive, live, sleep, happen.

  • They arrived home early.

  • She is Sleeping.

  • He lives here.

  • She is coming.

Note: Some state verbs are not used in the passive even if they are transitive. For example: lack, suit, resemble, have, belong.

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English Grammar: