Hello readers, in this lesson of English Grammar, we will be going learn What is Active and Passive Voice in English grammar, then we jump to the conversion of active to passive and passive to active with suitable examples, so let's begin the discussion. To download the lesson in PDF format, please find the downloadable link attached below in the article.
In which case, the subject is the action doer or the agent, whereas the object is the recipient of the action.
Common voice distinction in the various languages ranges from active, to the middle, to passive voices. In some languages such as the Latin, the distinctions are made by inflexion, while in the English language the distinctions are made by syntactic variations.
Every written sentence in English, on the very least, contains a subject and an action. A subject can be defined as the person or object the sentence is all about, while the action is basically what the subject did or happen to be doing.
When the sentence is written in an active voice, what that means is that the focus is on the subject of the sentence and NOT the action they’re doing. In other words, the subject is mentioned first, while their action is mentioned after them.
Example in a Sentence.
This is a complete sentence featuring the subject ‘I’ and an action ‘Run’.
As you can see, the ‘I’ is the subject behind the verb run. And since the sentence was written in the active, the subject was to be mentioned first so the reader can have an easy time understanding what the subject is all about.
There are times when a sentence will be written in passive. What this means is that the focus of the sentence has shifted from the subject to the action being performed. Meaning the sentence is expressing the action that’s being acted upon by the subject of the sentence.
So, in other words, the actioned is mentioned first and the subject later.
Example in a Sentence:
Where running is the action and I the subject.
In this sentence, it’s pretty clear that the author is more interested in the action, run.
The sentence is considered passive since the person or objects performing the action is mentioned after the action and NOT the other way round.
The Proto-Indo European [External Link] laid a clear distinction between an active voice and the middle voice.
Speaking of which the middle voice is meant to signify action or the state in which the topical goal under discussion is the main subject of the action.
Example in a sentence:
In the middle voice, the main point of focus is the action and NOT the recipient or the subject as with active and passive voice.
You’re however reminded that NOT all languages have voices.
As you can see, the action doesn’t change; what changes is the focus. Where the focus is on the doer of the action, the sentence becomes active. But where the focus is directed on the action instead, the sentence becomes passive.
In the sentences, the topicalized goal or the grammatical subject for that matter is the street urchin, while the recipient or the object or agent being acted upon is the dog.
Read this bearing in mind that you’re NOT necessarily required to express the object or agent while constructing a sentence in the passive.
Not all transitive verbs [External Link] are meant to take an active or passive voice. A few exceptions that break the rule.
Overuse of passive voice is strongly discouraged in writing because it creates confusion. In which case, you’re advised to write more in the active voice for the sake of creating the much-needed clarity in writing.
The use of passive voice also tends to encourage tautology or wordiness, where you’re using an excess amount of words to express a simple concept.
However, there’re some situations where the use of passive voice is encouraged. This is particularly the case in situations where you’re required to put some emphasis on the action, and NOT the subject.
It’s also more practical to use the passive voice where the subject or doer is NOT important and, for some reasons, you do not intend to mention them.
Lastly, a sentence written in passive voice tends to be more polite and less dramatic or aggressive compared to those in the active voice.
Changing Passive voice into Active isn’t as complicated as some people love to assume. All you have to do is identify the subject of the sentence, the main action, and the object.
What follows is to rewrite the sentence by shifting your focus to the subject. Next, make the subject perform the action in the sentence and that’s pretty much like it.
Rewriting a sentence from active to passive is a no-brainer, as well. All you’re required to do is make the object in the sentence the subject while changing the verb to a ‘be’ verb followed by the past participle. [External Link]
The subject of the sentence, on the other hand, can either be omitted or preceded by “by”.
Examples in a sentence:
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