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Does Active/Passive Voice Confuse You?

By Basant Singhal|Day to Day English | Active Passive Voice | 21 Dec 2018

Hi friends!

 

Are you a serious English learner?

 

Are you a Govt job aspirant?

 

Are you a teacher?

 

Or, are you just passionate about knowing the English language?

 

If you have answered any of the above – mentioned questions

in YES, this article is for you.

 

But let me caution you here!

 

Do not skip this article half- read and go!

 

Please read it till the very end and that too religiously!

 

If you can do so, by the time you have finished reading it, you will have understood the practical aspects of active/passive voice once and for all.

 

Ok! Let us get to the point now!

     

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As an English learner, teacher or student, do you find it hard to understand the concept of passive voice and even if you understand it, you think, you cannot explain it to your students in a simple and effective way.

 

Do not worry!

 

In this article, I will help you understand the concept of active/passive voice in an extremely easy yet effective way.

 

Read further…

 

What are active and passive voices?

 

Well, Active voice and Passive voice are the voices or the Forms of Verbs which indicate whether the Subject is the doer of the action or the receiver of the action.

 

If you can understand this thing, half your job is done!

 

Let’s analyze the following simple sentences.

 

Mr Sharma is teaching students.

 

Now, let me ask you who the subject is in this sentence. Mr Sharma, right ?

 

Now, Mr Sharma is doing the action or receiving the action?

 Well, He is doing the action, right?

 

Which action is he doing? Well, the action of teaching.

 

Who is receiving the action? Students, right?  But note, that is not the subject but the object of the action in a sentence.

 

Now let’s us examine another sentence.

 

Students are taught English by Mr. Sharma.

 

 

Who is the subject? Students, right?

 

 

What are the students doing here?

 

Are they teaching? No, why? Because they are not supposed to teach, or you can say, that teaching is not their job. Ok!   

 

Who is teaching then?  Mr. Sharma.

 

 

Who is receiving the teaching? Students, right??

So,’ students’ that is the subject in the sentence, receiving the action

 And not doing the action. that is why,

‘Students are being taught’ is a passive voice construction. Ok!

 

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Now, let’s us examine one more sentence.

 

Criminals are arrested by police.

 

What are criminals doing in this sentence?

 

Are they arresting someone?? No.

 

Why??

 

Because criminals do not arrest someone, rather, police do the arresting.

 

So, arresting is being done by the police and criminals are receiving the action of arresting, or you can say, that criminals are being arrested by the police. 

 

If you can understand in a sentence who is doing the action and who is receiving the action, you can understand the tricky concept of active and passive voice quite easily.

 

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Please note, that in all passive voice constructions, we always use Past Participle or the third form of the Verb.

 

For example:  

  1. Newcomers are being instructed.
  2. Anti-social elements are being searched.
  3. Students are being taught.
  4. The bridge was built in 1979.

 

All the above-mentioned sentences are written in passive voice.

 

Now, Can you tell in all the above-mentioned sentences who is

 receiving the action.

 

Well, newcomers, anti-social elements, students and the bridge are receiving the action.

 

And, by the way, who is doing the action in the above sentences?

Well,

 

In sentence 1, some trainer or instructor is doing the action.

 

In sentence 2, the police is doing the action because searching is done

by the police.

 

In sentence 3, some teacher is doing the action.

 

 

In sentence 4, some engineer is doing the action.

 

By now, I hope that you must have had some clue about what active voice

 and passive voices are and how they work.

 

Now, test yourself and just try to fill the blank in the sentence below

 using an appropriate word group.

 

Mr. Ajay jumped the red light by mistake and _________ to the police inspector for questioning.

A.  Was taking        B.  Was taken       C.   Was being taken      D.  Had taken

 

Done ??

 

What is your answer and why?

 

Can you explain your answer in good details?

 

Now, let me tell you the correct answer of this sentence and discuss why.

 

 

In the first part, Mr Ajay jumped the red light, so he did some action or you can say, that he is the doer of the action. right?

 

That is why, we have used active voice and have written it as ‘Ajay jumped the red light’ but look at the second part.

 

What is Ajay doing in the second part?

 

Is he doing something? No.

 

Then, who is doing some action? Well, Police.

 

What is police doing?

 

Well, they are taking Ajay for questioning.

 

Because Ajay cannot take police for questioning.

 

it means that the police is doing the action and Ajay is receiving the action.

 

If Ajay is receiving the action in the second part of the sentence, then this part should be written in passive voice.

 

So,

 

Mr. Ajay jumped the red light by mistake and was taken to the police inspector for questing. Ok!

 

I hope, now you understand!

 

Now, let me test you if you have really understood what active/passive voice is and how to apply it (‘it’ means the concept) in real life situations. Ok !

 

 What is the task anyway?

 

Well, the task is that you have to fill out the below-mentioned paragraph

about a school, applying the concept of active and passive voice. Ok!

If you can fill it out correctly, there is a good reason for you to be happy.

Now, let us get started! 

 

Don’t worry!  

 

The Test Paragraph is followed by the Answer Paragraph.         

 

TEST PARAGRAPGH

All the students are _______ (sitting/being sit) in the class and they are_______ (teaching/ being taught) by the qualified teachers. Students_______ (are given/giving) the home work daily and the home work________( is checked/checking) by the teachers. Teachers are sometimes_______ (called/calling) by the principal for the meeting. In the meeting all the teachers_______(are asked/asking) about the students’ performance in their respective classes. Last year, all the students _______ (taking/ were taken) for the picnic and all the teachers (asking /were asked) to go along with the students. In this school, all the classes______ (starts/ being started) at 8 am and student______ (are taught/ teaching) various subjects such as Maths, English and Science.

If students do the homework badly, they_____ (are scolding/ scolded) and are sometime also______ (punished/ punishing). Next year, the deserving and bright students______ (will be awarded/ awarding) by the principal and after the yearly appraisal, if any teacher is found deserving enough, he or she_____ (will be promoted/ promoting) by the Appraisal Committee.

           

ANSWER PARAGRAPH

All the students are sitting in the class and they are being taught by the qualified teachers. Students are given the homework daily and the home work is checked by the teachers. Teachers are sometimes called by the principal for the meeting. In the meeting, all the teachers are asked about the students’ performance in their respective classes. Last year, all the students were taken for the picnic and all the teachers were asked to go along with the students. In this school, all the classes start at 8 am and students are taught various subjects such as Maths, English and Science.

If students do the homework badly, they are scolded and are sometime also punished. Next year, the deserving and bright students will be awarded by the principal and after the yearly appraisal, if any teacher is found deserving enough, he or she may be promoted by the Appraisal Committee.

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