Understanding Voices : Grammar Lesson

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Lesson Overview

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn the basics of voice lessons and identify the two main types: active and passive along with voice definition.
  2. Differentiate between active and passive voice and understand their effects.
  3. Master the rules for converting sentences from active to passive voice and vice versa.
  4. Engage in targeted exercises to practice converting between active and passive voices.
  5. Discover how to use active and passive voice effectively to vary sentence structure and improve writing style.

Introduction to Voice: Active and Passive


Welcome, young explorers! Are you ready to learn about the magical world of grammar with our thrilling adventure through this voice lesson? Imagine you are a wizard, and every sentence you create casts a spell. Sometimes your spell talks about what you do and sometimes about what happens to you.

In this voice course, you'll discover how to switch between these two voices. We'll explore voice grammar rules that transform a sentence from active to passive. This understanding will enhance your ability to manipulate the focus and impact of your sentences, enriching both your writing and storytelling skills. With fun examples, exciting exercises, and magical quizzes, you'll become a Grammar Wizard in no time. You'll see how switching voices can change the focus of your sentence and even the tone of your story!


What is Voice?

Voice in language determines how the action in a sentence is presented in relation to the subject and the object. It is a crucial tool that impacts the clarity and tone of verbal communication. By choosing different types of voice, speakers can emphasize particular aspects of their message, whether it's the doer of an action or the receiver. This flexibility helps in crafting more engaging and varied expressions in both writing and speaking.

What Are The Types of Voices?

Voices have two types.

Active Voice: In the active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action. It highlights the doer and makes the sentences direct and dynamic.

For example:

The cat chased the mouse.
The chef cooked a delicious meal.
She sings a beautiful song.
The gardener is planting flowers.
The teacher explained the lesson.

Passive Voice: In the passive voice, the focus shifts to the receiver of the action. The subject of the sentence is acted upon. This voice is useful when the doer is unknown or less important than the action itself.

For example:

The mouse was chased by the cat.
A delicious meal was cooked by the chef.
A beautiful song is sung by her.
Flowers are being planted by the gardener.
The lesson was explained by the teacher.

How to Convert Active Voice to Passive Voice?


According to voice grammar rules when converting sentences from active voice to passive voice, it's important to rearrange components and sometimes change the verb form. This makes the subject of the sentence the receiver of the action rather than the doer.

Identify the Subject, Verb, and Object

In active sentences, the format usually follows "Subject-Verb-Object." To form a passive voice, you need to reverse this to "Object-Verb-Subject."

Active: The cat (subject) chased (verb) the mouse (object).
Passive: The mouse (object) was chased (verb) by the cat (subject).

Use the Object as the New Subject

Start the passive sentence with the object of the active sentence. This new subject will receive the action.

Active: A baker (subject) makes (verb) cakes (object).
Passive: Cakes (new subject) are made (verb) by a baker (new agent).

Change the Verb Form

Adjust the verb to include a form of "be" (am, is, are, was, were) followed by the past participle of the main verb. The correct form of "be" depends on the tense of the original verb.

Active: She (subject) writes (verb) emails (object).
Passive: Emails (new subject) are written (new verb form) by her (new agent).

Add 'by' Before the Original Subject

In passive voice, the original doer of the action (the subject in active voice) usually follows the word "by."

Active: The gardener (subject) is planting (verb) flowers (object).
Passive: Flowers (new subject) are being planted (new verb form) by the gardener (new agent).

Adjust for Tense

The form of "be" used must match the tense of the active sentence. Here are examples for different tenses:

Simple Present Tense

In the simple present, use "is" or "are" depending on the number (singular or plural) of the new subject (object of the active sentence).

Active: The chef cooks the meal.
Passive: The meal is cooked by the chef.

Simple Past Tense

In the simple past, use "was" or "were" based on the new subject's number.

Active: The chef cooked the meal.
Passive: The meal was cooked by the chef.

Present Continuous Tense

For the present continuous, use "is being" or "are being" depending on the new subject�s number.

Active: The chef is cooking the meal.
Passive: The meal is being cooked by the chef.

Past Continuous Tense

In the past continuous, use "was being" or "were being" to reflect the number of the new subject.

Active: The chef was cooking the meal.
Passive: The meal was being cooked by the chef.

Future Simple Tense

For the future simple, use "will be" regardless of the new subject's number.

Active: The chef will cook the meal.
Passive: The meal will be cooked by the chef.

Present Perfect Tense

In the present perfect, use "has been" or "have been" depending on the new subject�s number.

Active: The chef has cooked the meal.
Passive: The meal has been cooked by the chef.

Past Perfect Tense

For the past perfect, use "had been" for all subjects.

Active: The chef had cooked the meal.
Passive: The meal had been cooked by the chef.

Future Perfect Tense

In the future perfect, use "will have been" regardless of the new subject's number.

Active: The chef will have cooked the meal.
Passive: The meal will have been cooked by the chef.

Modal Verbs (can, may, must, should, etc.)


With modals, use "[modal] be" (can be, may be, must be, should be, etc.), which doesn't change with the subject's number.

Active: The chef can cook the meal.
Passive: The meal can be cooked by the chef.

Infinitive Structures


For infinitive structures, "to be" is added following the infinitive marker "to."

Active: The chef wants to cook the meal.
Passive: The meal is wanted to be cooked by the chef.

Make Necessary Pronoun Adjustments

If the sentence has pronouns, you may need to change them to make sense in passive voice (e.g., her to she, them to they).

Active: He (subject) loves (verb) her (object).
Passive: She (new subject) is loved (new verb form) by him (new agent).

Omit the Doer

If the doer of the action is not important or unknown, you can leave it out in the passive sentence.

Active: Someone (subject) stole (verb) my wallet (object).
Passive: My wallet (new subject) was stolen (new verb form).

How to Convert Passive Voice to Active Voice?


When converting sentences from passive voice to active voice, it's important to rearrange components and sometimes change the verb form.

Identify the Subject, Verb, and Object

In passive sentences, the format usually follows "Object being acted upon (Subject)-form of 'be' + past participle (Verb)-by Agent (Object)."

To form an active voice, you need to reverse this to "Agent (Subject)-main verb (Verb)-Object being acted upon (Object)."

Passive: The meal (subject) was cooked (verb) by the chef (object).
Active: The chef (subject) cooked (verb) the meal (object).

Use the Agent as the New Subject

Start the active sentence with the agent (doer) of the passive sentence. This new subject will perform the action.

Passive: The homework (subject) was completed (verb) by the student (object).
Active: The student (new subject) completed (verb) the homework (object).

Change the Verb Form

Convert the verb to its base form if the passive sentence includes a simple form of "be" (is, are, was, were) followed by the past participle. Adjust according to the tense.

Passive: The song (subject) is sung (verb) by her (object).
Active: She (subject) sings (verb) the song (object).

Remove 'by' and Rearrange the Object

In active voice, the original agent of the action directly follows the verb and there is no "by."

Passive: A novel (subject) was written (verb) by the author (object).
Active: The author (subject) wrote (verb) the novel (object).

Adjust for Tense

Convert the verb to the appropriate tense used in the passive sentence without the auxiliary 'be'.

Simple Present Tense

In the simple present, convert "is/are cooked" to "cooks/cook" depending on the original agent�s number (singular or plural).

Passive: The meal is cooked by the chef.
Active: The chef cooks the meal.

Simple Past Tense

In the simple past, change "was/were cooked" to "cooked."

Passive: The meal was cooked by the chef.
Active: The chef cooked the meal.

Present Continuous Tense

For the present continuous, transform "is/are being cooked" to "is/are cooking."

Passive: The meal is being cooked by the chef.
Active: The chef is cooking the meal.

Past Continuous Tense

In the past continuous, adjust "was/were being cooked" to "was/were cooking."

Passive: The meal was being cooked by the chef.
Active: The chef was cooking the meal.

Future Simple Tense

For the future simple, switch "will be cooked" to "will cook."

Passive: The meal will be cooked by the chef.
Active: The chef will cook the meal.

Present Perfect Tense

In the present perfect, modify "has/have been cooked" to "has/have cooked."

Passive: The meal has been cooked by the chef.
Active: The chef has cooked the meal.

Past Perfect Tense

For the past perfect, change "had been cooked" to "had cooked."

Passive: The meal had been cooked by the chef.
Active: The chef had cooked the meal.

Future Perfect Tense

In the future perfect, update "will have been cooked" to "will have cooked."

Passive: The meal will have been cooked by the chef.
Active: The chef will have cooked the meal.

Modal Verbs (can, may, must, should, etc.)

With modals, convert "[modal] be cooked" (can be, may be, must be, should be, etc.) to "[modal] cook."

Passive: The meal can be cooked by the chef.
Active: The chef can cook the meal.

Infinitive Structures

For infinitive structures, revise "is wanted to be cooked" to "wants to cook."

Passive: The meal is wanted to be cooked by the chef.
Active: The chef wants to cook the meal.

Make Necessary Pronoun Adjustments

Adjust pronouns to suit the new subject or object position and ensure they make grammatical sense.

Passive: The car was driven by her.
Active: She drove the car.

Include the Doer

Ensure that the doer of the action is clearly mentioned as the subject, unless originally unspecified in passive voice.

Passive: The song was sung beautifully.
Active: The singer sang the song beautifully.

Exercise 1: Identify the Voice


The police arrested the suspect last night.
Active Voice

The new song was released by the band yesterday.
Passive Voice

Jessica teaches mathematics at the university.
Active Voice

A beautiful cake was baked by Maria for the competition.
Passive Voice

The documents are being printed right now.
Passive Voice

The gardener waters the plants every morning.
Active Voice

All the cookies were eaten by the end of the party.
Passive Voice

The committee approved the new regulations.
Active Voice

The bridge is being repaired by the construction crew.
Passive Voice

Lightning struck the ancient tree.
Active Voice

Exercise 2: Rewrite the following sentences from Active Voice to Passive Voice


Active Voice: The teacher explains the lesson.
The lesson is explained by the teacher.

Active Voice: Rachel will finish the report by tomorrow.
The report will be finished by Rachel by tomorrow.

Active Voice: The chef is preparing a special dinner for the guests.
A special dinner is being prepared for the guests by the chef.

Active Voice: The company has employed ten new workers this year.
Ten new workers have been employed by the company this year.

Active Voice: Children were playing games in the park.
Games were being played in the park by children.

Active Voice: The mechanic fixed the car.
The car was fixed by the mechanic.

Active Voice: Scientists have discovered a new planet.
A new planet has been discovered by scientists.

Active Voice: The manager will give a speech at the conference.
A speech will be given by the manager at the conference.

Active Voice: The cat chased the mice all over the house.
The mice were chased all over the house by the cat.

Active Voice: Someone stole my wallet in the shopping mall.
My wallet was stolen in the shopping mall by someone.


Exercise 3: Rewrite the following sentences from Passive Voice to Active Voice


Passive Voice: The painting was admired by all the gallery visitors.
All the gallery visitors admired the painting.

Passive Voice: The final goal was scored by the team captain.
The team captain scored the final goal.

Passive Voice: The mystery novel has been written by a famous author.
A famous author has written the mystery novel.

Passive Voice: The cake was being decorated by Jane when I arrived.
Jane was decorating the cake when I arrived.

Passive Voice: The documents are stored in the cabinet by the office manager.
The office manager stores the documents in the cabinet.

Passive Voice: The marathon was won by an unknown runner last year.
An unknown runner won the marathon last year.

Passive Voice: A new theory has been proposed by the scientist.
The scientist has proposed a new theory.

Passive Voice: The song was being sung by the children at the concert.
The children were singing the song at the concert.

Passive Voice: The treaty was signed by two countries to end the conflict.
Two countries signed the treaty to end the conflict.

Passive Voice: The message had been delivered by the courier before noon.
The courier had delivered the message before noon.


You've successfully piloted through our course on voices with great enthusiasm and have mastered how to use both active and passive forms in your writing. Every sentence you've transformed has strengthened your skills as young grammarians. You've learned to shift the spotlight in your sentences from the doer of the action to the receiver, adding variety and depth to your writing.

As we wrap up our course, remember that these new skills are just the beginning of your journey into the vast world of language. With the active and passive voices now in your toolkit, you can enhance your writing by deciding which elements of your sentences to emphasize, making your stories and explanations more engaging. Continue to practice by revising sentences in your favorite books and essays from active to passive and vice versa. Challenge your classmates to identify the changes you've made and explore the different effects these can create.

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