'Voice' refers to the relationship between the subject and the verb in a
sentence. A sentence is said to be in the active voice if the subject is
performing the action of the verb.
In English, as in many other languages, the passive voice is the form of a
transitive verb whose grammatical subject serves as the patient, receiving
the action of the verb. English's passive is formed using a form of the
auxiliary verb be together with a verb's past participle.
will have been
will have been
Use passive instead of active:
If the agent is unknown.
Denise’s computer was stolen from her office.
If the agent is not focus.
The new library was finished about a year ago.
If the agent is obvious from context.
I had an accident yesterday. This other car went through a red light
and hit me. My car was completely destroyed.
To focus on receiver.
Did you hear the news? Matt was injured slightly in the earthquake,
but Jeff was O.K.
To make general explanations, statements and
announcements, or in scientific and technical writing.
Passengers are asked to refrain from smoking.
Because we most often use passive verbs to describe situations
when the agent is not the primary focus, we usually do not
include the agent (by noun phrase) in passive sentences.
However, sometimes it is necessary to include the agent.
When the agent gives us additional new information.
Many important scientific discoveries have been made by women.
When information about the agent is too important to omit.
Radioactivity was discovered by Marie Curie in 1903.
When the agent is surprising or unexpected.
That picture was painted by a monkey.
PASSIVE VOICE EXAMPLES
PRESENT: IS, ARE
PAST: WAS, WERE
The passive voice is typically contrasted with the active voice,
which is the form of a transitive verb whose subject serves as
the agent, performing the action of the verb.
The subject of a verb in the passive voice corresponds to the
object of the same verb in the active voice.
They make Fords in
Fords are made in Cologne.
Susan is cooking dinner.
Dinner is being cooked by Susan
James Joyce wrote
"Dubliners" was written by
They were painting the
house when I arrived.
The house was being painted
when I arrived.
They have produced over
20 models in the past two
Over 20 models have been
produced in the past two years.
They are going to build a
new factory in Portland.
A new factory is going to be built Future
I will finish it tomorrow.
It will be finished tomorrow.
If you want to change a passive-voice sentence to active voice, find the
agent in a "by the..." phrase, or consider carefully who or what is
performing the action expressed in the verb. Make that agent the subject
of the sentence, and change the verb accordingly. Sometimes you will need
to infer the agent from the surrounding sentences which provide context.
Special cases: Verbs with no passive
forms and other verbs with no active
Some verbs don’t have passive form because they do not take
direct objects. This category includes verbs such as:
Occur, happen, take place, appear, seem, look, emerge, vanish,
disappear, appear, resemble, consist of, collide, etc.
Few changes have occurred at Stonehenge over the years.
The discovery of Nazca Lines happened in the 1930s.
NOT: A ceremonial function was had by these pictures.
NOT: Some animals are resembled by the pictures.
Jeff was born in Kansas.
NOT: Jeff’s mother bore him in Kansas.
A stative verb, generally, cannot be made into a passive sentence. However,
some stative verbs have "active" forms in which the verb has another
Stative verb: "weigh"
Arnold weighs 250
The doctor weighed
the baby. (active)
(no passive possible)
The baby was
weighed by the doctor.
Some verbs have different meaning when in the passive voice:
Passive The College of San Mateo is located on a hilltop. (exists)
Active The Board of Regents voted to locate the new college on a hilltop.
(situate / build)
Active The police located the lost child. (found)
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