VERB VOICELesson Four
How to Convert Active Voice into the Passive Voice
In the event of converting Active Voice into Passive Voice, the active voice’s “subject” is moved and placed in the position of its “object” preceded by the preposition “by” (optional). Conversely, the active voice’s “object” is moved into the position of its “subject”.
In other words, the positions which the subject and object occupy in the active voice are swapped in passive voice.
Guidelines to Convert Active Voice into Passive Voice
The following rules must be observed in the event of converting a sentence in the Active Voice to Passive Voice:
First and foremost, you must make careful effort to see if the active sentence has a direct objectOpens in new window. This is crucial, because a sentence with no direct object cannot be converted into passive voice. If there exists a direct object in the active sentence then the conversion into passive voice is possible.
To make the conversion, simply remove the object of the active voice and insert it in the position of subject (Beginning of the sentence) in the passive voice. Conversely, remove the subject of the active voice into the position of object in the passive voice.
Consider these examples:
Note that it is acceptable to omit subject of active voice in passive voice if the sense is meaningful regardless:
Generally, the main verb of the active voice is converted into Past Participle (V3) variously as the case may be:
|is / am / are / was / were + past participle|
|have been / has been / had been + past participle|
|will be / shall be / can be / may be + past participle|
|would be / could be / should be / might be + past participle|
Note that Auxiliary VerbsOpens in new window in passive voice are used according to the tense of the sentence. The verb to be indicates the tense, and the past participle indicates the action.
Insert the active sentence’s subject into a phrase beginning with the preposition by. In other words, the person or thing that performs the action is presented by the preposition by in the passive voice.
Consider these examples:
Although, we have occasions where other prepositions: ‘at,’ ‘in,’ ‘with,’ ‘for’, are appropriate instead of by:
When the subject in an active sentence is a pronoun: ‘I,’ ‘we,’ ‘you,’ ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘they,’ ‘it’, it changes in passive sentence as follows:
However, when the object in an active sentence is a pronoun: ‘me,’ ‘us,’ ‘you,’ ‘him,’ ‘her,’ ‘they,’ ‘it’, it changes in passive sentence as follows:
Rule #5: Subject–verb Agreement
You must ensure that the first verb agree with the new subject in passive voice.
Observe the following examples:
If there is combination of two objects (direct and indirect objects), only one object is swapped. The second object remains static.
Quick Observations on Direct and Indirect Objects
Cases where changing Active Voice into Passive Voice is impossible
I. Tenses. — The following Tenses cannot be converted into Passive Voice:
- Present Perfect Progressive Tense Opens in new window
- Past Perfect Progressive Tense Opens in new window
- Future Progressive Tense Opens in new window
- Future Perfect Progressive Tense Opens in new window
II. Transitive and Intransitive Verbs— Only the verb which takes direct object can go into the passive. Intransitive verbs don’t take direct object; as a result, can’t be converted into passive voice.
Note that there are two types of verbs:
- Transitive Verb Opens in new window — A type of verb that takes object.
- Intransitive Verb — A type of verb that doesn’t take object.
Although most verbs can be used both as transitive and as intransitive verbs. However, there are many verbs which are used only intransitively.
Examples:Active voice sentence with transitive verb
- We sent a message.
There is a direct object (a message) in this sentence. As a result, it could be changed into passive voice: “A message was sent by us.”Active voice sentence with intransitive verb
- We sleep.
There is no object in this sentence. As a result, converting it into passive voice is not possible.
Some verbs which are used only intransitively includes:
|to become||to come||to denote||to sleep|
|to die||to go||to fall||to walk|
|to happen||to occur||to rise|
III. Stative Verbs — A verb form that refers to states of being instead of actions. Generally, stative verbs are not used in the passive voice. Some examples of stative verbs include:
Consider the following:
|Attempt to convert to Passive Voice|
Therefore, we can’t convert an active voice sentence with stative verb into passive voice.
IV. No One and Nobody:
- Active. – Nobody understands him.
Passive. He is never understood.
- Active. – Nobody has understood me.
Passive. – I have never been understood.
- Active. – No one ever said a word.
Passive. – A word was never said.