Active and Passive Voice Changing Theory

An Easy Guide to Active and Passive Voice Changing Theory

Would you like to learn the master structure of changing active and passive voice in English grammar? Changing voices in English from active to passive or passive to active is an essential part of transformation of sentences. Here, I am going to show you the easier process of voice changing with examples and explanations. So, let’s start our discussion and you will be able to change voices right after reading this lesson.

There are a lot of good grammar books where the rules of changing voices have been discussed and I myself have gone through a lot of rules here and there. There is nothing bad in this. But going through a lot of rules might make a student confused and make the lesson difficult to understand. So, I have come up with a master structure and you can call it ‘voice changing theory’.

First of all, I want to give you a basic idea on active and passive voice in English language. But make sure that you have clear idea about the person and tenses in English grammar. Without having proper knowledge and clear idea on these basic grammar lessons, you will not be able to change voices correctly.

Let’s start….

What is Active and Passive Voice in English Grammar?

Voice indicates the manner of writing a sentence which shows its subject is the ‘doer’ or ‘doee’ of the action expressed by the verb in that sentence. Basically, voice shows us the condition of subject in that sentence. It tells us that whether the subject is powerful or powerless in case of action in that sentence. And based on this condition, we must know that Voice can be classified into two classes: active voice and passive voice.

active and passive voice - voice changing
Active Voice and Passive Voice

Follow these two sentences below to understand the forms of active and passive voices:

Active: I make a basket for my business.
Passive: A basket is made by me for my business.

Well, now learn these two words:  ”Doer and Doee”

‘Doer’ indicates the person who acts and is powerful in a sentence.
‘Doee’ indicates the person or the thing which is influenced by the ‘doer’ in a sentence and it is powerless

When the subject is ‘doer’ in a sentence, it is called active voice.
When the subject is ‘doee’ in a sentence, it is called passive voice.

Notice these sentences:  
Active: I am writing a report on pollution.

(Here, ‘I’ is the ‘doer’ of the verb ‘writing’ and it is subject, so this is active sentence.)

Passive: A report on pollution is being written by me.

(Here, ‘a report on pollution’ is the ‘doee’ of the verb ‘writing’ and it is unable or powerless to write anything but this is subject in this sentence. So, it is passive sentence.)

Structures of Voice Changing

Now, I want to show you a phrase that will tell us about each elements of active and passive voice changing process. Here it is…

Have a look on this phrase: TSOEMvS

voice changing phrase
Phrase: TSOEMvS

Again confused!

Oh… It’s natural. It looks like a mathematical theory, right?

Read the explanations below based on this logic. You will understand easily.

Explanation of the Phrase

T= Tense marking – (What is the tense of the sentence?)
S= Subject marking – (Which part of the sentence is subject?)
O= Object marking – (Which part of the sentence is object?)
E= Extra marking – (Which part of the sentence is extra or adjunct and how many are they?)
Mv= Main Verb marking – (Which part of the sentence is main verb?)
S= Sentence category – (What is the kind of the sentence such as :assertive/negative/interrogative?)

Now see how we mark these elements in a sentence and you have to mark these elements from each sentence you want to change into active or passive form.

I have taken my breakfast just now.
Subject Present Perfect Object Extra
Voice Example

So, this Phrase: ‘TSOEMvS’ is used here to make things easier for you. Memorizing this phrase and its elements, you can easily remember all of these required elements to be changed one by one if they exist in a sentence. Before changing voice of a sentence, you have to look for these elements and mark them in a sentence. All elements might not be present in a sentence but you have to look for the available elements.

But why?

Now see the master structure of changing voices and you can note this as a passive voice structure. It will tell you why we are searching or marking these elements in a sentence before changing voices.

Structure of Passive Voice Changing

(Object will be replaced by Subject+ auxiliary verb according to the tense+ past participle form of the main verb+ by+ Subject will be replaced by Object+ extra)

Let’s have an example:

Active: I have taken my breakfast just now.

Passive: My breakfast has been taken by me just now.

My breakfast has been taken by me just now.
Object will be replaced by Subject auxiliary verb according to the tense past participle form of the main verb Subject  will be replaced by Object extra

More examples:

Active: Your friend likes my job because of privacy.
Passive: My job is liked by your friend because of privacy .

Active: Most of the people are making this shield for their protection.
Passive: This shield is being made by most of the people for their protection.

Is it clear now?

Why is it important to recognize and mark those elements in a sentence? Without marking them, you will not be able to change their positions or forms during voice changing in a sentence.

Now, you have learned the structure of changing voices for affirmative sentences in English. In case of negative and interrogative sentences, it’s not too much different. Let’s see them too.

Negative Structure of Passive Voice

STRUCTURE: (Object will be replaced by Subject+ auxiliary verb according to the tense +not + past participle form of the main verb+ by+ Subject will be replaced by Object+ extra)

Example:

Active: I do not make any illegal product here.
Passive: Any illegal product is not made by me here.

Interrogative Structure of Passive Voice

STRUCTURE: (auxiliary verb according to the tense + Object will be replaced by Subject +the extended part of auxiliary verb+ past participle form of the main verb +by+ Subject will be replaced by Object+ extra)

Example:
Active: Are you writing a letter now?
Passive: Is a letter being written by you?

Usages of Person: Subjective & Objective Forms

I asked you in the beginning that you have to learn different forms and classifications of persons to change voices such as subjective form, objective form. Because, when you will change voice from active to passive, you have to change the position of the subject and object too. If the subject is “I” in an active sentence, it will be “me” in passive sentence because you are placing subject in the place of object. So, you have to use the objective form of the pronoun “I” which is “me”.

Let’s have an example:

Active: I have taken my breakfast just now.
Passive: My breakfast has been taken by me just now.

Note: You can see the subject ”I” in active sentence is placed as an object in passive sentence and “me” as an objective form of the subject “I” is used. It’s not too much difficult to remember these persons and their forms.

Here is a simple chart on the subjective forms and objective forms of particular persons in English.

List of Persons: Subjective & Objective Forms
Subjective forms Objective  forms
I me/myself
We us/ourselves
You you/yourself
You you/yourselves
He/She/It him/her/it/itself/himself/herself
They they/themselves
List of Persons

Usages of Tense and Auxiliary Verbs

Have you noticed one thing?  

I am using several different forms of auxiliary verbs while changing voices in different tenses. Yes, this is the point, you have to concentrate attentively. Every element of a sentence in active form such as ‘subject, object, extension’ is changing its position while transforming into passive form.

So, we are getting most of the words of our passive voice from active form. But, the auxiliary verb is something which doesn’t exist in active form. We have to know the usages of auxiliary verbs based on the tense of an active sentence. So, the tense of the active sentence will tell us about the form, we have to use for passive form.

You have to learn the list of auxiliary verbs based on the specific tense. Here is a quick chart on the list of auxiliary verbs based on tenses. Following this chart you can easily remember that which auxiliary verb should be used for which tense.

List of Auxiliary Verbs based on Tenses

List of Auxiliary Verbs for Passive Voice
Auxiliary Verb Chart

I hope now you are clear about the element: “T= Tense marking – (What is the tense of the sentence?)”

This is why, you have recognize the tense of an active voice. To change an active and passive voice, you have to mark the tense properly.

Now, I am giving the examples of the changed auxiliary verbs on all tenses in English. It will help you understand the usages of auxiliary verbs based on different forms of tenses. Read these examples carefully matching with the chart given above. Remember one thing, without studying examples, you can never understand or use a structure or rules properly.

Voice of Indefinite Tense

Robin plays cricket in this field. Cricket is played by Robin in this field.
played was played
will play will be played
Voice of Indefinite Tense

Voice of Continues Tense

Robin is writing a letter now. A letter is being written by Robin now.
was writing was being written
will be writing will be being written
Voice of Continues Tense

Voice of Perfect Tense

Robin has broken a glass during lunch. A glass has been broken by robin during lunch.
had broken had been broken
will have broken will have been broken
Voice of Perfect Tense

Voice of Perfect Continues Tense

Robin has been making baskets since morning. Baskets have been being made by robin since morning.
had been making had been being made
will have been making will have been being made
Voice of Perfect Continues Tense

Conclusion on Active and Passive Voice Changing

This is all about changing voices from active to passive and now you are aware of the rules, elements, and structure of them. These voice changing rules are based on the classifications of tenses. You can find a lot of exercises and worksheets on voice changing here and test your skill on active and passive voice changing. More lessons are also coming on transformation of sentences.

There are some advanced and exceptional rules of voice changing which I will come with new lessons. If you follow the methods and processes which I have explained, you can easily remember the structures of voice changing and can successfully change active and passive voice in English language. Let us know your thoughts in comment box below and share this lesson with your nearest one.