Active Voice Passive Voice for Competitive English

General English

There are two special forms for verbs called voice. Those are

  1. Active voice
  2. Passive voice

The active voice is the “normal” voice. This is the voice that we use most of the time. You are probably already familiar with the active voice. In the active voice, the object receives the action of the verb. The passive voice is less usual. In the passive voice, the subject receives the action of the verb. Have a look at the following table of examples for better understand of the voices.

The Active Voice The Passive Voice
Cats Eat Fish Fish are Eaten by Cats

Now Lets see where and when we should use Passive Voice:

  • Passive voice is used when the focus is on the action. It is not important or not known, however, who or what is performing the action.
    • Example: “A letter was written.” The focus, here, is on the fact that a letter was written. We don’t know, however, who wrote it.
  • Sometimes a statement in passive is more polite than active voice. Have a look at the following example.ExampleA vase was broken.
    • Focus, here, is on the fact that a vase was broken, but we don’t blame anyone. Compare this to: “You broke the vase.”

Form of the passive voice:

Subject + the appropriate form of to be + Past Participle

Note: The appropriate form of to be = To be is put in the the tense of the active voice main verb.

When rewriting active sentences in passive voice, note the following:

  • The object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence.
  • The form of the verb is the appropriate form of to be (the tense of the active voice main verb) + the past participle.
  • The subject of the active sentence becomes the object of the passive sentence (or is dropped.)


Active Shivani makes tea
subject verb object


Tea is made (by  Shivani )
object becoming subject verb subject becoming object or is dropped

Examples of the passive voice:

Tense Subject Verb Object
Simple Present Active: Shivani makes tea.
Passive: Tea is made by  Shivani
Present Progressive Active: Shivani is making tea.
Passive: Tea is being made by  Shivani
Simple Past Active: Shivani made tea.
Passive: Tea was made by  Shivani
Past Progressive Active: Shivani was making tea.
Passive: Tea was being made by  Shivani
Present Perfect Active: Shivani has made Tea.
Passive: Tea has been made by  Shivani
Past Perfect Active: Shivani had made tea.
Passive: Tea had been made by  Shivani
Future simple Active: Shivani will make tea.
Passive: Tea will be made by  Shivani
Future perfect Active: Shivani will have made tea.
Passive: Tea will have been made by  Shivani
Conditional Active: Shivani would make tea.
Passive: Tea would be made by  Shivani
Modals Active: Shivani can make tea.
Passive: Tea can be made by  Shivani

Passive voice sentences with two Objects:

Rewriting an active sentence with two objects in passive voice means that one of the two objects becomes the subject, the other one remains an object. Which object to transform into a subject depends on what you want to put the focus on. Have a look at the following Examples.

Active/Passive Subject Verb Object 1 Object 2
Active: Shivani offered a flower to me.
Passive: A flower was offered to me by  Shivani
Passive: I was offered a flower by  Shivani

Impersonal Passive:

Have a look at the following Examples :

  • They say that the planet is in danger.
  • It is said that the planet is in danger.

This type of passive is called impersonal because we use the impersonal form “it is…” This is only possible with verbs of perception (e. g. say, think, know …)


  • It is said that…
  • It is thought that…
  • It is believed that…
  • It is known that…

It is also common that we start the passive form of these sentences with the subject of the that-clause:


  • They say that the planet is in danger.= The planet is said to be in danger.
  • They think that women live longer than men. = Women are thought to live longer.