AV & PV/Basics/

Basics of Active and Passive Voice.

Voice is the inflecting property of TRANSITIVE VERBS, which shows, whether the subject of a sentence performs or receives the act, or action.

There are two voices in English.

1. Active voice.

2. Passive Voice.  

Active Voice:

In active voice, subject is the performer of the action.

Passive Voice:

In passive voice, subject is the receiver of the action.

Voice of Verbs:

Voice describes the relationship between subject (doer) and object (receiver).

Passive is possible for transitive verbs only.

What is Transitive Verb?   

The verb, which has an object is called transitive verb.

The verb which doesn’t have object or objects is called intransitive verbs.

Look at the following examples:  

I play cricket.

Here, I is the subject. Cricket is the object.

Play is the transitive verb because it has the object – cricket.

In this sentence the subject ‘I’ performs the action of play. So, it is in active voice.

The other way, we can rewrite the sentence in passive voice.

“Cricket is played by me”.

Here, the subject cricket receives the action of the verb – play.

Now the sentence is in passive voice.

We take another example.

I played well yesterday.

The action verb – ‘Play’ explains the quality of performance of the subject – I. 

And there is no object. So, the verb ‘play’, though it is a transitive verb, used intransitively.

So we cannot express this sentence in passive voice because there is no object like ‘cricket’.

So, we can define voice as a property which belongs to transitive verbs only.

Basic Rules for Active Voice and Passive Voices:

Rules applicable for transforming active voice into Passive Voice and vice versa.


AV stands for Active Voice.

PV stands for Passive voice.

Rule – 01:

Subject and objects are interchanged.


They watch action movies. (Active Voice).

Action movies are watched by them. (Passive Voice)

Here, they and action movies are the subject and objects respectively.

And they are interchanged to change an AV sentence to PV.

Rule – 02:

‘By’ is placed before the agent.


Action movies are watched by them.  

Rule – 03:

The main verb in AV, irrespective of its form, is changed to past participle that is V3 in passive sentences.


I play cricket. (AV)

Cricket is played by me. (PV)

Here the main verb – play in AV sentence is in the present form (V1).

In passive voice the verb ‘played’ (V3) is the past participle form of the basic verb – play.

Rule – 04:

Different forms of the verb ‘to be’ are used as helping verbs (auxiliary verbs) before the V3 form of the main verb in PV according to the tense of the AV sentence.


Am, is, are, was, were, been, and being are the ‘be’ forms.


Cricket is played by me (PV).

The helping verb ‘is’ is one of the forms of the verb ‘be’.

And it is followed by the main verb ‘played’ which is the V3 of the basic verb – play.

Rule – 05:

Nouns whether used as subjects or objects in AV do not change their form when they interchange their position in PV.


Jack loves pop music. (AV)

Pop music is loved by Jack. (PV)

Jack and pop music are nouns and they remained the same in both AV and PV sentences.

Rule – 06:

In case of pronouns, we need to change them from subject case to object case according to their place in sentences.


I called him in the morning. (AV).

‘I’ is the subject; and ‘him’ is the object form of ‘He’. 

Its passive structure is:

He was called by me in the morning. (PV)

‘Him’ becomes ‘He’; and I’’ becomes ‘me’.

The table of pronouns is given below.

                                Table of Pronouns (Subject & Object)

 7It / That / Thisit / that /this
 8Those / Thesethose / these

Rule – 07:

There are 12 tenses in Active Voice.


Out of the 12 tenses, only eight tenses can be made into Passive Voice.

That means four tenses cannot be transformed into PV.

The said four tenses are:  

Future continuous (or Future Progressive) Tense.

And all the three of the perfect continuous tenses.

They are:

Present perfect continuous tense,

Past perfect continuous tense, and

Future perfect continuous tense.

The structures of Active and Passive Voice for the remaining 8 tenses are discussed below with examples.

1. Simple Present Tense:  

The active voice structure is:  

Subject + V1 / V5 + Object


V1 = the basic form of the verb; and

V5 = V1 + s/es

The passive structure for this is:  

Subject + am/is/are + V3 + by Object.


They build houses. (AV)

Houses are built by them. (PV)

2. Simple past:


Subject + V2 + Object


They built this house. (AV)  

The passive structure:

Subject + was/were + V3 + by Object


This house was built by them.

3. Simple future:

AV Structure:

Subject + will/shall + V1 + Object


They will build a new house. (AV)

Passive structure:

Subject + will/shall + be + V3 + by Object


A new house will be built by them.

4. Present continuous tense:

A V structure:

Subject + am/is/are + V4 + Object


They are building houses. (AV)

The passive structure:

Subject + am/is/are + being + V3 + by Object


Houses are being built by them. (PV)

5. Past continuous:

The structure is:

Subject + was/were + V4 + Object


They were building the house.

Passive structure:

Subject + was/were + being + V3 + by Object


The house was being built by them. (PV)

6. Present perfect tense:

Active voice structure:

Subject + have/has + V3 + Object


They have built the house.

Passive structure:

Subject + have or has + been + V3 + by Object


The house has been built by them.

7. Past perfect tense:

Active voice structure:

Subject + had + V3 + Object.


They had built the house. (AV)

The passive structure:

Subject + had + been + V3 + by Object


The house had been built by them. (PV)

8. Future perfect tense:

Active structure:

Subject + will/shall + have + V3 + Object.


They will have built the house.

Passive structure:

Subject + will/shall + have + been + V3 + by Object


The house will have been built by them.

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