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Understanding and using active and passive voice rules is crucial for effective English communication. It improves both spoken and written expressions.

However, mastering these rules can be challenging, especially for non-native speakers. Switching between active and passive voice can feel overwhelming, especially with the differences between Indian languages and the English language.

But don't worry; you can overcome this challenge with the right guidance. Platforms like Clapingo are here to help. We understand the struggles of Indian English learners and are dedicated to making English grammar easier for you.

This blog post simplifies active and passive voice usage. It will explain complex concepts with practical examples relevant to everyday contexts.

Let's get started on this English language journey that will make you a confident communicator in no time!

Understanding Active and Passive Voice

The path to fluent English includes learning some crucial concepts like active and passive voice. So, let's dive right into it!

  • Active voice is a way of constructing sentences where the subject performs the action. It gives your sentence a direct, strong, and clear tone. For example: "Rahul ate an apple." Here, Rahul (the subject) performed the action of eating.

  • On the other hand, passive voice is a sentence construction where the object of an action becomes the subject of the sentence. It's used to focus on what happened more than who did it. Using our previous example in passive voice would be: "The apple was eaten by Rahul."

To further clarify these concepts, let's look at a comparison table:

Active Voice

Passive Voice

The subject performs action

The object receives action

Sentence: Rahul ate an apple

Sentence: The apple was eaten by Rahul

Focus: On who is doing

Focus: On what is being done

Remember that neither form is incorrect; they are simply used in different contexts. However, active voice tends to be more engaging and straightforward.

Let's consider some additional examples:

  • Active: Shreya cooked dinner.

  • Passive: Dinner was cooked by Shreya.

  • Active: Mahesh closed the door.

  • Passive: The door was closed by Mahesh.

For visual learners, here's a quick Clapingo video explaining the difference between the two voices:

Rules of Active Voice

The active voice in English breathes life into your sentences. It makes them more dynamic and engaging. Understanding its rules can significantly enhance your spoken English skills.

Firstly, an active voice sentence follows the structure: Subject - Verb - Object. Here, the subject is the doer of the action (verb). And the object receives the action. For instance, in the sentence "Ravi ate an apple," Ravi is the subject, 'ate' is the verb, and 'an apple' stands as the object.

Secondly, verbs play a significant role in active voice sentences. The verb must be an action verb indicating something that can be done, like eat, play, or sing. Also, it must match the subject in terms of number and tense.

Thirdly, remember that not all sentences will have a clear object. Some verbs may not require one. For example, "Geeta sleeps early."

Now let's consider some examples of active voice for better comprehension:

  • Rahul writes a letter. (Subject: Rahul; Verb: writes; Object: a letter)

  • The girls are playing football. (Subject: The girls; Verb: are playing; Object: football)

  • I read the newspaper every morning. (Subject: I; Verb: read; Object: Newspaper)

Understanding Passive Voice

The passive voice is one of the essential elements in the English language, and mastering it can significantly improve your communication skills. It's often used when the focus is on the action rather than who or what is performing the action. Here's a breakdown of its rules:

Rule 1: The passive voice structure: Object + Be + Past Participle. The focus shifts from the 'doer' to the action done.

  • Active: Ram painted the wall.

  • Passive: The wall was painted by Ram.

Rule 2: The tense of the verb 'be' matches with that of the main verb in active voice.

  • Active: She will finish her work.

  • Passive: Her work will be finished by her.

Rule 3: For transitive verbs (verbs that take an object), use the passive voice to shift focus to the object.

  • Active: Kids love ice cream.

  • Passive: Ice cream is loved by kids.

Remember, using active and passive voice correctly reflects your understanding of English grammar and enhances your communication skills.

Converting Active Voice to Passive Voice

Understanding how to convert sentences from active to passive voice is a crucial part of mastering English grammar. This skill can help you add variation and depth to your writing or speaking. In an active sentence, the subject performs the action. While in a passive sentence, the subject is acted upon.

In essence, to convert an active voice sentence into passive voice, you need to follow three simple steps:

  1. Make the object of the active sentence into the subject of the passive sentence.

  2. Add an appropriate form of verb "be" (is, am, are, was, were) + past participle of the main verb.

  3. Move the subject of the active sentence after the verb and add "by".

Let's look at this rule in action with a few examples:

Active Voice

Passive Voice

Ram reads a book.

A book is read by Ram.

I made a mistake.

A mistake was made by me.

The cat chased the mouse.

The mouse was chased by the cat.

Converting Passive Voice to Active Voice

Just as we learned how to convert from active to passive voice, understanding how to transform sentences from passive back to active voice is equally important. It adds clarity and conciseness to your speech or writing.

To convert a passive voice sentence into active voice:

  1. Make the object after "by" into the subject of your new sentence.

  2. Follow with your main verb from your original sentence.

  3. End with what used to be your subject in your original sentence.

Here are some passive voice examples that are turned to active voice:

Passive Voice

Active Voice

A letter is written by Rita.

Rita writes a letter.

The cake was eaten by the children.

The children ate the cake.

The game was won by the team.

The team won the game.

Common Mistakes in Using Active and Passive Voice

Learning a new language, especially English, can be difficult when it comes to mastering voice rules such as active and passive voice usage. Here are some common mistakes non-native English speakers often make:

1. Incorrect verb form:

For instance, saying "The cake was eat by him" instead of "The cake was eaten by him."

2. Inappropriate usage:

Using the passive voice where the active would be more effective – "The keys were lost by me" as opposed to "I lost the keys."

3. Overcomplicating sentences:

Unnecessary use of the passive voice can lead to awkward phrasing – "It has been observed that he is always late" instead of simply stating, "He is always late."

Let's tackle these hurdles with some practical tips:

  • It may sound obvious and repetitive, but practice makes perfect. Practice recognizing and using correct verb forms in both active and passive sentences. You can also use visual aids like an active passive voice rules chart to help you along.

  • Keep it simple. Whenever possible, use the active voice for clarity and brevity.

  • Know your subject. In situations where you want to emphasize the object or action expressed over who performed it, opt for the passive voice.

Now let's see how these play out in dialogues:

Correct: "She baked a cake." (Active Voice)

Incorrect: "A cake was baked by her." (Unnecessary use of Passive Voice)

Correct: "A beautiful mural was painted on the wall." (Passive Voice)

Incorrect: "Someone painted a beautiful mural on the wall." (Unneeded information in Active Voice)

Active vs Passive Voice: When to Use Which?

Mastering active and passive voice rules can enhance your English speaking skills significantly. To ensure you use each correctly, here are some guidelines:

  • Use active voice when you want to emphasize who is performing an action or when the doer's identity is important.

  • Use passive voice when you want to highlight the action or object, or when the doer is unknown or irrelevant.

Let's consider some examples:

Active - "The dog chased the cat." (Emphasis on who is doing the action)

Passive - "The cat was chased by the dog." (Emphasis on what was done)

To solidify this understanding, let's look at some relatable scenarios:

  • Buying groceries: In active voice, you might say "I bought vegetables from the market." In passive voice, you'd say "Vegetables were bought from the market by me."

  • Watching a cricket match: You could say in active voice, "Sachin hit a six!" whereas in passive voice, you'd say "A six was hit by Sachin!"

Remember, neither voice is 'better' than the other. The key is to understand when each can be most effectively used. Active voice is generally recommended as it is direct and bold.

So go ahead, start experimenting with these guidelines in your daily conversations, and see your English communication skills soar!

Practice Exercises for Active and Passive Voice

Let's put your understanding of the concept into practice with a few exercises.

Exercise 1: Convert from Active to Passive Voice

  1. She eats an apple.

  2. The teacher explains the lesson.

  3. The dogs chased the cat.

  4. They painted the house green.

  5. We celebrated his birthday.

Exercise 2: Convert from Passive to Active Voice

  1. The song was sung by her.

  2. A letter was written by me.

  3. The match was won by our team.

  4. The windows were cleaned by the workers.

  5. The cake was baked by Grandma.

Exercise 3: Identify whether the sentence is in Active or Passive Voice

  1. The email was sent by him.

  2. She dances gracefully.

  3. We were invited to their wedding.

  4. I solve puzzles during my free time.

  5. Dinner is being cooked by Mother.

Now, check your answers below:


Exercise 1:

  1. An apple is eaten by her.

  2. The lesson is explained by the teacher.

  3. The cat was chased by the dogs.

  4. The house was painted green (by them).

  5. His birthday was celebrated (by us).

Exercise 2:

  1. She sang the song.

  2. I wrote a letter

  3. Our team won the match

  4. The workers cleaned windows

  5. Grandma baked the cake

Exercise 3:

  1. Passive

  2. Active

  3. Passive

  4. Active

  5. Passive

Clapingo's Approach to Mastering Active and Passive Voice

Mastering grammar can be tough, especially for non-native English speakers. Whether you need help with voices in past tense and future tense or understanding the difference between intransitive and transitive Verbs, Clapingo makes it easier with personalized coaching.

We know everyone learns differently, so our sessions are customized to your style, speed, and language level. Our tutors simplify complex theories into easy concepts, focusing on hands-on learning through exercises and real-life situations.

We emphasize not just theory but also practical usage. You'll learn when to use active voice for direct impact and when to use passive voice for subtlety or politeness, vital for both writing and speaking English well.

Listen to what our users have to say and decide for yourself. Here are some testimonials from Clapingo users.

Why Choose Clapingo:

Dipali's Journey:

Give your English language skills a boost with Clapingo's personalised coaching sessions!

In A Nutshell

Navigating English grammar may feel overwhelming, but it's a journey, not a race. You've made progress in understanding active and passive voice rules, and practicing will reinforce this knowledge.

In this post, we've explained active and passive voice, where the subject and object switch places. Passive voice is identified by auxiliary verbs like "is," "am," "are," "was," and "were" with past participles, often used when the doer is unknown or unimportant.

We've outlined the steps to change from active to passive voice: identify the subject, verb, and object in an active sentence, then move the object to the subject position in a passive sentence. 'By' is used before mentioning the doer in passive sentences.

Practice with everyday examples is crucial. Books or newspapers offer good practice material. For more grammar help, check out the roundup of grammar guides on Clapingo’s blog.

At Clapingo, we're dedicated to helping non-native English speakers improve fluency, pronunciation, vocabulary, and sentence structure. Mastering each rule gets you closer to fluent English. Keep practicing, and remember, every expert was once a beginner!


1. What is the key difference between active and passive voice?

In an active voice sentence, the subject does the action, while in a passive voice sentence, the subject receives the action. For example, Active: "Ravi ate an apple." (Ravi is doing the action), Passive: "The apple was eaten by Ravi." (The apple receives the action).

2. Why should I learn about active and passive voice rules?

Mastering active and passive voices enhances your English skills, enabling you to express ideas with greater clarity and variety. It also helps in understanding written texts better, particularly in academic or formal contexts where passive voice is often used.

3. Can a sentence be both in active and passive voice?

No, a single sentence cannot be both in active and passive voice at once - it's either one or the other. However, within larger chunks of text, individual sentences can alternate between these two voices as per the requirements of expression.

4. How can I convert an active sentence into a passive one?

To convert an active sentence to a passive one, move the object to the beginning of the sentence and use appropriate form of 'be' + past participle of main verb. For instance, "She paints beautiful portraits" (active) becomes "Beautiful portraits are painted by her" (passive).