CBSE Class 11 English Grammar – Active and Passive Voice
There are two ways of expressing an action by using a transitive verb. Read the following sentences:
(i) Hari killed a snake.
(ii) A snake was killed by Hari.
These two sentences have the same meaning. These are simply two different ways of saying the same thing. There is, however, a shift in stress on the agent and also a change in the form of verb.
In sentence (i), the subject ‘Hari’ is the ‘doer’ of the action. It acts or is active. So the verb ‘killed’ is in active voice.
In sentence (ii), the subject ‘A snake’ is the ‘receiver‘ of action. It suffers the action done by someone else (Hari, in this case). It is acted upon. So the verb ‘was killed’ is in passive voice.
Study the following examples:
WHAT DO YOU NOTICE?
- Only Transitive Verbs can be changed into Passive Voice.
- A transitive verb has an object, which becomes the subject of the Passive Voice.
- The subject of the Active Voice is made the object of some Preposition generally ‘by’
- The passive contains the Past participle (Third form) of the main Verb.
- Some form of the Verb ‘to be’ (is, am, are, was, were, being or been) is used according to Tense.
- The Tense of the Verb does not change.
Table I: Table of Verb Forms
Table II: Tense Chart (Passive Voice)
forms of the Verb ‘love’ in various tenses
The case of pronoun also changes from Nominative to Accusative. Study the following table:
It follows that the ‘Object’ in the active voice also suffers a change. When the pronoun becomes subject in the Passive Voice, it assumes the nominative case.
Study the following:
CHANGE OF VOICE IN TENSES
The change of Voice takes place only in the following EIGHT tenses:
1. Simple Present Tense
2. Simple Past Tense
3. Simple Future Tense
4. Present Continuous Tense
5. Past Continuous Tense
6. Present Perfect Tense
7. Past Perfect Tense
8. Future Perfect Tense
The tenses have been grouped in this order to help the students grasp the changes with minimum effort. The form of verb in Active as well as Passive Voice has been provided to facilitate comparison, identification and execution of the change.
Note. The following four tenses have no passive forms.
1. Future Continuous
2. Present Perfect Continuous
3. Past Perfect Continuous
4. Future Perfect Continuous
Let us study the Active and Passive Voice Constructions tense wise:
1. THE SIMPLE PRESENT TENSE
2. THE SIMPLE PAST TENS
3. THE SIMPLE FUTURE TENSE
4. PRESENT CONTINUOUS TENSE
5. PAST CONTINUOUS TENSE
6. PRESENT PERFECT TENSE
7. PAST PERFECT TENSE
8. FUTURE PERFECT TENSE
IMPORTANT NOTE. The following tenses have no Passive Voice:
- Future Continuous
- Present Perfect Continuous
- Past Perfect Continuous
- Future Perfect Continuous
Now, let us study some other typical constructions:
1. MODALS FOLLOWED BY VERBS
2. IMPERATIVE SENTENCES
Imperative sentences begin with the First form of the verb. In case of request, ‘please’ or ‘kindly’ may be added before the infinitive.
The Imperative Sentences may be divided into three types:
(i) Where the action is confined to the subject.
(ii) Where the subject receives the action.
(iii) Offers/suggestions beginning with ‘let’
Let us study them separately:
Type I. Request/Advice/order confined to the subject. Use: ‘You are ordered / advised / requested + to’ according to sense followed by first form of the verb.
Type II. Where the object receives voice. Then add he’ and the third form of the verb.
- We use the pronoun in objective forms after ‘let’
- We can use ‘should + be + V3’ in place of ‘Let + be + V3’
The above sentences could be changed into passive voice with the help of ‘should’ as under:
- It should be done.
- The window should be opened.
- (Your) parents should be obeyed.
- The light should be switched on.
- Time should never be wasted.
- He should be asked to vacate my house.
- The thief should be caught.
The form with ‘Let’ is more popular now-a-days.
Type III. Offers/Suggestions with ‘Let’. The Active Voice has the First Form of the Verb after let and Noun/Pronoun. While changing the voice, retain ‘let’ but transfer the object of active voice after Tet’ and then add be + Third form of the Verb and the agent (doer/subject in the active voice)
3. SENTENCES WITH INFINITIVES
Type I. to + infinitive. While changing sentences with ‘to + First Form of the Verb’ into the Passive voice, the infinitive becomes a passive infinitive i.e. to + be + third form of the verb.
The main verb (if any) remains unchanged.
Type II. Bare infinitive. The Bare Infinitive is changed to full infinitive i.e. to + infinitive. The main verb is changed into Passive form according to the tense.
4. SENTENCES BEGINNING WITH ‘IT IS TIME
The sentences beginning with ‘It is time’ have a ‘to-infinitive’ followed by ‘Object’ in the Active Voice construction. While changing into Passive Voice, ‘It is time’ is retained at the beginning, followed by ‘for + object’ and then ‘to + be + third form of the verb’ is added. Study the following :
Illustrative Examples :
5. SENTENCES HAVING VERBS + PREPOSITIONS
Some Intransitive verbs become transitive and take an object after the preposition added to the verb. In such cases this preposition becomes part of the verb. While changing into the Passive Voice this preposition is retained ‘as such’ along with the third form of the said verb. Study the following:
6. PREPOSITIONS OTHER THAN ‘BY’
The past participles of some verbs take prepositions other than ‘by’ when used in the passive voice. We use ‘to’, ‘at’, in, ‘with’ instead of‘by’ with the following verbs (Past Participle or Third Forms).
- at — alarmed, .annoyed, astonished, displeased (something), pleased (something), surprised, shocked, vexed (something), worried.
- in — contained, engaged, included, involved
- with — blocked, crowded, disgusted, embellished, filled, impressed, offended (person), pleased (person), satisfied, thronged.
- to — known, obliged
7. VERBS WITH TWO OBJECTS
Some verbs take two objects:
(i) Direct (ii) indirect; e.g.
Mr Sharma teaches us English.
In this sentence ‘English’ is the ‘direct object’ whereas the pronoun ‘us’ is indirect object. We may use either of the objects to frame a Passive e.g.
(i) We are taught English by Mr Sharma.
(ii) English is taught to us by Mr Sharma.
You will notice that we use preposition ‘to’ between Past Participle ‘taught’ and the indirect object ‘us’. Students usually forget to add ‘to’. They are advised to use the ‘Indirect object’ for changing into passive voice. However, examples of both objects are given below.
8. SENTENCES WITH OBJECT COMPLEMENTS
In some sentences a complement is used after an object. As the complement specifies the object, it is called object complement. Students sometimes take it for the second object and hence commit mistakes while changing into Passive Voice. Place the object complement at the end of the sentence in the passive voice, as we do in the Active Voice. Study the following
9. SENTENCES WITH LONG OBJECTS
Sometimes the subject of a transitive verb is not a single word but a phrase or a clause. We must keep the phrase as a single unit. Similarly, we may use the clause as the subject of the passive sentence. In case, the clause is too long, we use ‘it is/it was’ as an introductory subject and put the clause after the verb.
Study the following illustrative examples:
Note. You will notice that the constructions at (i) in sentences 3, 4, and 5 beginning with ‘It is’ look more compact.
10. CHANGE OF INTERROGATIVE SENTENCES
Interrogative sentences remain interrogative in form even in the passive. So, retain the question mark (?) at the end of the sentence. Secondly, put an appropriate helping verb before the subject according to the tense.
Thirdly, Question-words like ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘why’, ‘where’, ‘who’, ‘when’ ‘whose’, ‘which’, ‘How’, etc. come before the helping verb.
So ‘if there is a Wh-word, put it first of all.
There is a catch. Be attentive.
‘Who’ is changed into “by whom’.
‘Whom’ is changed into ‘who’.
Other wh-words remain unchanged.
One more point. What about the changes in auxiliary verbs?
Well, some of them do change their forms according to tenses, eg.,
(а) Do/Does change into is /am/are
(b) Did changes into was/were
In case of (a) Is/am/are (b) was/were and (c) has/have the change is within the group according to the singular/plural number of the subject in the passive voice or according to person in (d) will/shall and (e) would/should.
Study the following illustrative examples:
You will note that in sentences 9 to 15, the auxiliary (do/did) in the Active Voices, changes its form to ‘is/was’ but it still retains its position before the subject—because the sentence is still a question.
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