Rules of Active and Passive Voice | Definition & Examples

Rules of Active and Passive Voice

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the rules of active and passive voice in depth, discussing their definitions, purposes, and various applications. Whether you are a student looking to improve your writing skills or a professional seeking to enhance your communication, this article will provide you with a thorough understanding of active and passive voice.

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What is the formula of passive voice?

The formula for passive voice in English is:

Passive voice = auxiliary verb (to be) + past participle of main verb

Here are some examples of the passive voice formula with different tenses:

Present simple: The report is written by John. (auxiliary verb “is” + past participle “written”)

Past simple: The cake was baked by Mary. (auxiliary verb “was” + past participle “baked”)

Present continuous: The movie is being watched by the children. (auxiliary verb “is” + present participle “being” + past participle “watched”)

Future simple: The book will be read by many people. (auxiliary verb “will be” + past participle “read”)

Note that the subject of the sentence in the passive voice receives the action, rather than performing the action as in the active voice.

Definition of active & passive voice.

A verb is in the active voice when its subject acts. When the subject does something.

  • Pinky writes an essay every day.  Muslims had ruled (or had ruled over) Spain.  Pakistan can make great scientific progress.
  • Here Pinky is the subject, writes is the transitive verb and essay is the object. Muslims are the subject, ruled is the transitive verb and Spain is the object. Pakistan is the subject; make is the verb and scientific progress is the object.

A verb is in the passive voice when its subject is acted on.

  • An essay is written by John every day. (Or) Every day an essay is written by John. Spain had been ruled by Muslims.
  • Great scientific progress can be made by Pakistan.

rules of active and passive voice

Note :

The third form of the main verb, past participle, is always used in the passive voice.

  • The car was driven by Ali.

How to change active to passive voice?

Rules of Active and Passive Voice!

Change the order or arrangement of the words in the sentence. Bring the object to the beginning so as to show that it is being acted on. We, thus, make it the passive voice subject. But in question, the order is according to the situation.


Active voice: the people like that leader.

Passive voice: that leader is liked by the people.

Active voice: she helped me.

Passive voice: I was helped by her.

Active voice: will you visit Canada?

Passive voice: will Canada be visited by you?

Change the main verb into its third form.

Use the necessary helping verb ( is, was, be, etc. ) in the passive voice according to the tense.

Active voice: Mr. X teaches poor people.

Passive voice: poor people are taught by Mr. X.

  • The helping verb is followed by the past participial in the passive voice. The past participle is “taught” here.

Active voice: let us throw the football far away.

Passive voice: let the football be thrown by us far away.

Active voice: They ate the food in the afternoon.

Passive voice: the food was eaten by them in the afternoon.

rules of active and passive voice
rules of active and passive voice

Note. The words are unconnected with the subject and object._ the additional words_ like “fat away” in the second sentence and “in the afternoon” in the afternoon” in the third sentence above remain the same in the passive voice.

rules of active and passive voice

Further notes:

Only a transitive verb sentence can be changed into the passive voice because only a transitive verb can have an object. Thus, we can’t change a sentence with an intransitive verb into a passive voice.

  • They sleep at noon.

It can’t be changed into the passive voice.

If a passive voice sentence like the one given below does not have the subject, it cannot be changed into the active voice readily.

  • English and other language are taught here.

But we can imagine the subject and change the sentence without the subject into the active voice thus:

  • Some foreigners teach English and other languages here.

The direct and indirect object

Rules of Active and Passive Voice!

When a transitive verb has two objects, either of them can be made the subject in the passive voice.

The direct object is a noun or pronoun that comes after the action verb. It answers the question what? Or whom? The indirect object comes before the direct object and names the person or thing for which something is done.

Active voice: Pinky teaches us English.

Passive voice: we are taught English (indirect or retained object) by Pinky. (Or) English is taught us (retained object) by Pinky.

  • The object of the transitive verb in the active voice becomes the subject of the passive voice.

Active: we are playing cricket.

Passive: cricket is being played by us.

Here cricket is the object of “playing” in the active voice. It is the subject of “is being played” in the passive voice.

  • We cannot change a passive voice sentence into the active voice unless it has the subject of the active voice verb.

Passive: Hockey is played by us in the afternoon.

Active: we play hockey in the afternoon.

We can not change the following sentence into the active voice.

  • Hockey is played here in the evening. ( here there is no subject of the active verb. “who” plays hockey, the subject, is understood. Quite a many passive voice sentences in English are framed thus.)

Tenses in Active and Passive voice

Rules of Active and Passive Voice!

  • Present, past, or future indefinite tense

Note in the passive voice of the following sentences: in the simple present, the helping verb “is” is used, and then the third form of “study.”

In the simple past, the helping verb “was” is used, and then the third form of “eat.”

In the simple future, the helping verb “be” is used, and then the third form of “write.” The same for “meet.”


Active voice: They study Urdu.

Passive voice: Urdu is studied by them.

Active voice:  John ate a cake.

Passive voice: A cake was eaten by John.

Active voice: John will write a letter.

Passive voice: The letter will be written by John.

Active voice: They will meet me.

Passive voice: I shall be met by them.

  • Present continuous and past continuous tense:

Note in the passive voice of the following sentences: in the present continuous, the helping verb ‘being” is used, and then the third form of “cook.” The same in the following sentences:

In the past continuous, the helping verb “being” is used, and then the third form of “learn.” The same for “learn” and “examine.”


Active voice: she is cooking food.

Passive voice: food is being cooked by her.

Active voice: we are learning our lessons.

Passive voice: our lessons were being learned by us.

Active voice: the doctor was examining him.

Passive voice: He was being examined by the doctor.

Active voice: the teacher is teaching the class.

Passive voice: The class is being taught by the teacher.


Future continuous tense, present perfect continuous tense, and past perfect continuous tense do not admit of passive voice in sensible English.

It will be foolish to expect a native speaker to give the passive form of

  • She will be meeting her old friends in Karachi. (Future continuous)
  • We have been reading these books since last month. ( present perfect continuous)
  • Had you been visiting the park off and on? (Past perfect continuous)


  • Present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect tense:


While converting verbs in the present, past, and future perfect tenses from active, “been” is used.

Note the following sentences: in the present perfect, the helping verb “been” is used, and then the third form of “see.”

In the past perfect, the helping verb “been” is used, and then the third form of “visit.”

In the future perfect the helping verb “been” is used, and then the third form of “finish.”


Active voice: he has seen this picture.

Passive voice: the picture has been seen by him.

Active voice: she had visited Multan.

Passive voice: Multan had been visited by her.

Active voice: They will have finished their work by ten.

Passive voice: Their work will have been finished them by ten.

Note on Questions:

  • The helping verbal “is”, “do,” “was,” “did,” etc. At the beginning of a sentence may be replaced by different verb forms according to the sense:


Active: Do the students play cricket after the classes.

Passive: is cricket played by the students after the classes?

  • “Do” goes with “the students” and “is” goes with “cricket.”

Active: Did they clean the rooms?

Passive: were the rooms cleaned by them?

  • To understand the above changes better note these stages:
  • Question words like “why, where, when, will, has, shall, must” remain unchanged.

Active: why does Mr. x meet them every day?

Passive: why are they met by Mr. X every day?


Step 1. Question

Why does Mr. X  meet them every day?

Step 2. Statement

Mr. X meet them every day.


Step 1. Statement

They are met by Mr. X every day.

Step 2. Question

Why are they met by Mr. X every day?

  • At the start, you may try the above method.

Question words like “is,” “was,” “do” get changed.

Active: Does Miss Y teach them?

Passive: are they tough by Miss Y?

Active: Did the people not vote against worthless leaders?

Passive: were worthless leaders not voted against by the people?


Step 1. Question

Does he help you?

Step 2. Statement

He help you.


 Step 1. Statement

You are helped by him.

Step 2. Question

Are you helped him?

Change of Shall or Will

These change according to the person and situation:

Active: The doctor will treat me. (The treating: third person)

Passive: I shall be treated by the doctor. (The first person to be treated by the third person)

active and passive voice examples

Use of Prepositions in the passive voice

Note: Generally, the subject of the active verb is made the object of the preposition “by” in the passive voice.

  • This room is cleaned by us.

However, other prepositions can at times be used.


Active: They know me.

Passive: I am known to them.

Active: The film disappointed us.

Passive: we were disappointed at or with the film.

  • Preposition like “in,” “at,” “up,” etc. Should be placed wherever needed.

Active: we looked at the beautiful scene.

Passive: The beautiful scene was looked at by us.

Active: How can they give up the struggle.

Passive: How can the struggle be given up by them.

Note the change above with reference to the different tenses.

Passive voice without subject

The agent or the subject proper is sometimes not necessary in the passive voice.

  • Someone picked my pocket in the bus.

My pocket was picked in the bus (by someone)

they visit these places as all reach their Favorite sports.

These places are visited (by them) as favorite spots are reached (by all).

We pity fallen heroes as we grieve over (or for ) youthful death.

active into passive voice

Order and requests

Note the use of “let” with “be” in the passive voice. With “have,” “be” is not used. With “please” and “kindly” in the active voice, we use  “ request” in the passive voice.


Active: shut the door after you come in.

Passive: let the door be shut after you come in. (Or) Have the door shut……

Active: Don’t trouble your neighbors.

Passive: let your neighbors not be troubled by you.

Further Examples:

Active: I saw them at the station yesterday.

Passive: they were seen at the station by me yesterday.

Active: My teacher does not punish me.

Passive: I am not punished by teachers.

Active: The teacher was to teach classes at noon.

Passive: classes were being taught by the teacher at noon.

Active: we shall play a match tomorrow.

Passive: A match will be played by us tomorrow.

Active: please make tea for me.

Passive: Have tea made for me, please.

Active: when will you return the books.

Passive: When will the book be returned by you?

Active: His sudden visit surprised me.

Passive: I was surprised at his sudden visit.

Active: she took the letter to the post office.

Passive:  the letter was taken by her to the Post office.

Active: he was planting new trees in the garden.

Passive: New trees were being planted by him in the garden.

Active: Go and wash the utensils.

Passive: Be gone and let the utensils be washed.

Active: your behavior displeases me.

Passive: I am displeased by your behavior.

Active: he will address a meeting here tomorrow.

Passive: The meeting will be addressed by him here tomorrow.

Active: The people need able leaders.

Passive: able leaders are needed by the people.

Active: we should construct new dams.

Passive: New dams should be constructed by us.

Active: Do not read harmful books.

Passive: let harmful books not be read by you.

Active: Read useful looks.

Passive: let the useful books be read.

Active: why are you wasting the best part of your life?

Passive: why is the best part of your life being wasted by you?

Active: write your homework and bring it tomorrow.

Passive: Let your homework be written and let it be brought tomorrow.

passive voice

Simple Tenses (Present, Past, Future)

We are punished.

The mango is eaten.

The sun is not seen at night.

Are the apples eaten?

The thief was not caught.

Were you not fined?

The whole building will be pulled down.

Shall I be transferred to Karachi?

Continuous Tenses (Present, Past, Future)

The eggs are being boiled.

The snake is being killed.

He is not being eaten.

The result is being announced today.

The road is not being repaired.

Are the room being swept?

The wall was being made.

The house was being searched.

Was a well being dug?

Was a new house being built?

Perfect Tenses (Present, Past, Future)

I have been punished.

New clothes have been stolen.

The thief has not been caught.

Has a building been constructed?

Your result had been declared.

He had not been dismissed from service.

Bano had not been married before he died.

Will the meeting have been postponed?

The work will have been finished till tomorrow.

It will have been rained before the sun rises.

rules of active and passive voice

How can I learn passive voice easily?

Learning passive voice can seem challenging at first, but with practice and some tips, it can become easier. Here are some steps you can follow to learn passive voice:

  • Understand the concept: Passive voice is a way of constructing a sentence where the subject of the sentence is not the doer of the action but the receiver of the action. For example, in the sentence “The book was written by Jane,” “The book” is the receiver of the action and “Jane” is the doer of the action.
  • Identify passive voice: To learn passive voice, you need to first learn to identify it. In a passive sentence, the verb is in the past participle form (e.g. written, spoken, seen) and is usually preceded by a form of the verb “to be” (e.g. is, am, are, was, were).
  • Practice with examples: Try to create your own examples of passive voice sentences. Write down sentences in active voice, and then try to rewrite them in passive voice.
  • Pay attention to the subject and object: In passive voice, the object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence, and the subject of the active sentence becomes the object of the preposition “by”.
  • Practice different tenses: Once you have a good understanding of the concept and can identify passive voice, practice writing passive voice sentences in different tenses, including present, past, and future.
  • Read and analyze: Read passages and articles to practice recognizing passive voice in real-world contexts. Analyze how passive voice is used in different situations, such as in news articles or scientific papers.
  • Get feedback: Have someone review your writing and provide feedback on your use of passive voice. This can help you identify areas for improvement and reinforce your understanding of the concept.

Remember that learning passive voice takes practice and time. By following these steps and practicing regularly, you can become more comfortable with using and identifying passive voice in your writing.

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