Active vs. Passive Voice
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Welcome to this grammar section on Active and Passive Voice.
So let’s first start by understanding what is the difference between the active and the passive voice
in the English language.
When we talk about the voice of a sentence we’re basically talking about the relationship between the
subject and the verb so in English we only have two voices.
The active and the passive here’s what the active voice is basically the active voice is when the subject
does the verb.
So here’s an example.
The dog bit the boy so a dog is our subject and bit is the verb the subject does the verb.
On the other hand in passive voice the verb is done to the subject so in our example here we can see
the boy was bitten by the dog our verb here is bitten and dog is the subject so in this example the
verb is done to the subject so do you see the difference between these two different sentences.
Notice that both these sentences have the same meaning however they are different in their structure
let’s explore these concepts in a bit more detail will start with the active voice so you may be wondering
when should I use the active voice.
Here’s the answer.
The active voice is best used for conveying simple and straightforward ideas and actions.
Now there are many reasons why the active voice is far more common than the passive voice let’s explore
some of these reasons.
First of all the active voice is direct and concise meaning that the active voice gets straight to the
It is also easier to understand it’s less awkward in structure and it clearly indicates the relationship
between the different parts of a sentence.
So let’s look at an example here.
Here’s a sentence I fed my dog yesterday.
Notice that this sentence is very clear and simple.
The sentence is written in active voice and it’s very easy to understand.
On the other hand if you were to write the same sentence in the passive voice you would have to write.
My dog was fed by me yesterday.
Do you see how strange and complicated this sentence sounds.
It’s very unnatural notice that both of these sentences mean the same thing and both of these sentences
are grammatically correct.
However this particular idea is best conveyed with the active voice because it’s simple and clear.
Now let’s talk about the passive voice if passive voice is so awkward in its structure.
Why do we use it.
And when do we use it.
Passive voice is primarily used in two main situations.
The first of these situations is when we do not want to say or do not know who did the action.
The second situation is when focusing on the recipient of the action is more important.
So let’s look at examples of both of these situations.
Here’s our first example.
Shoplifters were arrested.
Notice that in this sentence we don’t have to say that shoplifters were arrested by the police because
this is obvious.
So this is an example of the first situation we do not want to say who did the action.
Because it’s obvious there is no need to say that shoplifters were arrested by the police because only
the police can arrest people.
Here is another example my car was stolen in this case.
We don’t know who stole the car.
So this is also an example of the first situation.
We do not know who did the action.
Now let’s look at an example of the second situation in which we have to use the passive voice here’s
The road is being repaired noticed that in this sentence we’re only focusing on the recipient of the
We’re only interested in the road.
We don’t really care about the people who are repairing it.
Here is another example here we have two sentences which mean exactly the same thing.
The poem was written by Shakespeare Shakespeare wrote the poem on the top.
We have the passive voice and here on the bottom we have the active voice so both these sentences mean
exactly the same thing.
However there is a difference.
The difference is that in the first sentence the focus is on the poem whereas in the second sentence
the focus is on Shakespeare so depending on what exactly you’re trying to emphasize in a sentence you
may want to choose the passive voice or the active voice.
So I hope that the differences between the active voice and the passive voice are clear to you now let’s
now talk about how exactly do you go about constructing the passive voice basically if you want to form
the passive voice all you have to do is use different forms of the verb to be so here in this column
we have a list of tenses and here we have the structure for forming the passive voice you’ll notice
that depending on which tense we’re talking about we’re changing the verb to be in different forms so
here are some examples.
If we’re talking about the present simple tense we would say the food is eaten in the present continuous
tense we would say the food is being eaten in the present perfect tense we would say the food has been
eaten in the past simpletons we would say the food was eaten and so one Now let me show you an example
of the use of active voice and passive voice in a paragraph so in this example we have the passive voice
highlighted in this brown color and we have the active voice in the black color if you’d like you can
pause this video now and read this paragraph in your own time so that concludes this video I’ll see
you in the next grammar section in which we’ll talk about simple and compound sentences.
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