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Active voice

In most English sentences with an action verb, the subject performs the action denoted by the verb. These examples show that the subject is doing the verb's action.

Because the subject does or "acts upon" the verb in such sentences, the sentences are said to be in the active voice.

Passive voice
One can change the normal word order of many active sentences (those with a direct object) so that the subject is no longer active, but is, instead, being acted upon by the verb - or passive. Note in these examples how the subject-verb relationship has changed.

Because the subject is being "acted upon" (or is passive), such sentences are said to be in the passive voice.

NOTE: Colorful parrots live in the rainforests cannot be changed to passive voice because the sentence does not have a direct object. To change a sentence from active to passive voice, do the following: 1. Move the active sentence's direct object into the sentence's subject slot

2. Place the active sentence's subject into a phrase beginning with the preposition by

3. Add a form of the auxiliary verb be to the main verb and change the main verb's form

Because passive voice sentences necessarily add words and change the normal doeraction-receiver of action direction, they may make the reader work harder to understand the intended meaning. As the examples below illustrate, a sentence in active voice flows more smoothly and is easier to understand than the same sentence in passive voice.

It is generally preferable to use the ACTIVE voice.

To change a passive voice sentence into an active voice sentence, simply reverse the steps shown above. 1. Move the passive sentence's subject into the active sentence's direct object slot

2. Remove the auxiliary verb be from the main verb and change main verb's form if needed

3. Place the passive sentence's object of the preposition by into the subject slot.

Because it is more direct, most writers prefer to use the active voice whenever possible. The passive voice may be a better choice, however, when

the doer of the action is unknown, unwanted, or unneeded in the sentence Examples

the writer wishes to emphasize the action of the sentence rather than the doer of the action Examples

the writer wishes to use passive voice for sentence variety.

Active / Passive Verb Forms


Sentences can be active or passive. Therefore, tenses also have "active forms" and "passive forms." You must learn to recognize the difference to successfully speak English.

Active Form
In active sentences, the thing doing the action is the subject of the sentence and the thing receiving the action is the object. Most sentences are active. [Thing doing action] + [verb] + [thing receiving action] Examples:

Passive Form
In passive sentences, the thing receiving the action is the subject of the sentence and the thing doing the action is optionally included near the end of the sentence. You can use the passive form if you think that the thing receiving the action is more important or should be emphasized. You can also use the passive form if you do not know who is doing the action or if you do not want to mention who is doing the action. [Thing receiving action] + [be] + [past participle of verb] + [by] + [thing doing action] Examples:

Active / Passive Overview


Active Simple Present Present Continuous Simple Past Past Continuous Once a week, Tom cleans the house. Right now, Sarah is writing the letter. Sam repaired the car. The salesman was helping the customer when the thief came into the store. Many tourists have visited that castle. Recently, John has been doing the work. Passive Once a week, the house is cleaned by Tom. Right now, the letter is being written by Sarah. The car was repaired by Sam. The customer was being helped by the salesman when the thief came into the store. That castle has been visited by many tourists. Recently, the work has been being done by John.

Present Perfect Present Perfect Continuous

Past Perfect

George had repaired many cars before he received his mechanic's license. Chef Jones had been preparing the restaurant's fantastic dinners for two years before he moved to Paris. Someone will finish the work by 5:00 PM. Sally is going to make a beautiful dinner tonight. At 8:00 PM tonight, John will be washing the dishes.

Many cars had been repaired by George before he received his mechanic's license. The restaurant's fantastic dinners had been being prepared by Chef Jones for two years before he moved to Paris. The work will be finished by 5:00 PM. A beautiful dinner is going to be made by Sally tonight. At 8:00 PM tonight, the dishes will be being washed by John.

Past Perfect Continuous

Simple Future
WILL

Simple Future
BE GOING TO

Future Continuous
WILL

Future Continuous
BE GOING TO

At 8:00 PM tonight, John is going to be washing the dishes. They will have completed the project before the deadline.

At 8:00 PM tonight, the dishes are going to be being washed by John. The project will have been completed before the deadline.

Future Perfect
WILL

Future Perfect
BE GOING TO

They are going to have completed the project before the deadline. The famous artist will have been painting the mural for over six months by the time it is finished. The famous artist is going to have been painting the mural for over six months by the time it is finished. Jerry used to pay the bills. My mother would always

The project is going to have been completedbefore the deadline.

Future Perfect Continuous


WILL

The mural will have been being painted by the famous artist for over six months by the time it is finished. The mural is going to have been being painted by the famous artist for over six months by the time it is finished. The bills used to be paid by Jerry. The pies would always be

Future Perfect Continuous


BE GOING TO

Used to Would Always

make the pies. Future in the Past


WOULD

made by my mother. I knew the work would be finished by 5:00 PM.

I knew John would finish the work by 5:00 PM.

Future in the Past


WAS GOING TO

I thought Sally was going to make a beautiful dinner tonight.

I thought a beautiful dinner was going to be madeby Sally tonight.