Voice Change in English Grammar

The voice is the form of the verb which indicates if the subject does a certain work or something has been done to it.

The Voice can be divided into the following three classes:

1. Active Voice – A verb is in the Active Voice when the subject of the sentence is the doer or actor


  1. I did the work.
  2. He reads the Ramayana everyday.
  3. Ricky Ponting played a captain’s innings (or knock).

2. Passive Voice – A verb is in the Passive Voice when the subject of the sentence is acted upon.


  1. The work was done by him.
  2. The sum was worked out.
  3. A beautiful goal was scored by Ronaldo.

3. Quasi-Passive Voice – A verb is in the Quasi-Passive Voice when it is active in form but passive in sense.


  1. Honey tastes sweet (is sweet when tasted).
  2. The book reads well (well when it is read).
Rules Sample Papers
Worksheet Model Question
Rewrite into Passive Quiz
Examples Passive to Active Exercises
MCQs Change into Passive Voice Exercise
Question Bank Quasi Passive Voice
Mock Test Imperative Sentence
Test Papers Interrogative Sentence
Practice Questions Assertive Sentence

General Rules for changing the Active Voice into the Passive

  1. The object of the verb in the Active Voice changes its position and becomes the subject of the same verb in the Passive Voice
  2. The subject of the verb in the Active Voice changes its position and becomes the object (or agent or doer of the same verb in the Passive.
  3. The verb in the Active Voice is changed into the Past Participle form.
  4. The verb ‘to be’ is put into the same tense as the verb in the Active Voice and it is placed before the Past Participle form of the verb.
  5. The Preposition ‘by’ is generally placed before the ‘agent’/’doer” (or object) when it is mentioned in the sentence.

The following diagram may make the matter more clear:

Voice Change in English Grammar

Notice the following changes:

Active Voice Passive Voice
I eat rice. Rice is eaten by me.
He did the work. The work was done by him.
Baichung Bhutia will score a goal. A goal will be scored by Baichung Bhutia.

Changes of Pronouns in Active and Passive

The following are the changes in pronouns when they become objects from subjects and vice versa

Subject Form Object Form
I me
We us
You you
He him
She her
They Them

‘It’ like the proper name undergoes no change remaining the same both in subject and object positions as;

Active -> I did it.

Passive -> It was done by me.

Forms of Verb ‘To Be’ in the Passive Voice

The Verb To Be is common in the Passive Voice. It takes the following forms in agreement with the subjects.

Simple/Indefinite Continuous Perfect
Present mm/is/are am/is/are + being has/have + been
Past was/were was/were + being had + been
Future shall be/will be (not in use) shall/will have been

Tenses of Active and Passive Voices

Tenses Active Voice Passive Voice
Simple Present does is done
Simple Past did was done
Simple Future will do will be done
Present Continuous is doing is being done
Past Continuous was doing was being done
Future Continuous (not in use) (not in use)
Present Perfect has done has been done
Past Perfect had done had been done
Future Perfect will have done will have been done
Conditional would do would be done
Perfect Conditional would have done would have been done
Present Indefinite to do to be done
Perfect Infinitive to have done to have been done
Present Participle/Gerund doing being done
Perfect Participle having done having been done

Changes of Voice

Assertive Sentences

Passive Form Verb ‘To Be’ (am/is/are/was/were/will be/shall be/being/been) + Past Participle

Active Passive
I eat rice Rice is eaten by me.
Sita sang a nice song. A nice song was sung by Sita.
They were playing football. Football was being played by them.
He takes exercises everyday. Exercises are taken by him everyday.
We have worked out the sums. The sums have been worked out by us.
Father had bought these pictures. These pictures had been bought by father.
They will finish the work in time. The work will be finished by them in time.
I would contact him over telephone. He would be contacted by me over telephone.
Harbhajan could have captured six wickets. Six wickets could have been captured by Harbhajan.
The Prime Minister delivered a stirring speech for the nation. A stirring speech for the nation was delivered by the Prime Minister.

Interrogative Sentences

The Interrogative Sentences beginning with the verb ‘Do’ are first changed into the Assertive Sentences and then the Voice Change is made.

Passive form: Auxiliary Verb + Subject+ (be/being/been) + Past Participle

Active Assertive Passive
Do you like the story? You like the story. Is the story liked by you?
Did you see the match? You saw the match. Was the match seen by you?
Do you eat meat? You eat meat. Is meat eaten by you?
Did they complete the work? They completed the work. Was the work completed by them?

But if the Interrogative Sentences do not begin with the Verb ‘Do’, they can be directly changed into the Passive Voice.

Active Passive
Is he reading the story? Is the story being read by him?
Was she singing a song? Was a song being sung by her?
Were they playing cricket? Was cricket being played by them?
Will he kill the snake? Will the snake be killed by him?
Has he done the sum? Has the sum been done by him?
Can Agarkar dismiss Gilchrist? Can Gilchrist be dismissed by Agarkar?
Had you finished your homework? Had your homework been finished by you?

Question Words (“Wh’ questions)

Active Passive
Who did it? By whom was it done?
Why did he punish you? Why were you punished by him?
What did he do then? What was done by him then?
What do you want? What is wanted by you?
Which book do you need? Which book is needed by you?
How did they finish the job? How was the job finished by them?

Imperative Sentences

1. The verb in the Active Voice expressing command or order requires “let’ in the beginning of the Passive Voice and the Verb ‘be’ is placed before the Past Participle.

Passive Form: Let + Object + be + Past Participle

Active Passive
Change the voice Let the voice be changed.
Open the door. Let the door be opened.
Do the work Let the work be done.
Shut the windows Let the windows be shut.
Clean the classroom Let the classroom be cleaned.

2. The verb in the Active Voice expressing request’ or ‘entreaty requires ‘You are requested’ in the beginning of the Passive Voice and is followed by an infinitive.

Passive Form: You are requested + Infinitive + Object

Active Passive
Please give me the pen. You are requested to give me the pen.
Kindly do not mind. You are requested not to mind.
Give me a glass of water, please. You are requested to give me a glass of water.
Please donate something to the noble cause. You are requested to donate something to the noble cause.

3. If the verb in the Active Voice expresses advice should be is placed before the Past Participle.

Passive Form: Object + should be + Past Participle

Active Passive
Obey your elders. Your elders should be obeyed.
Help the poor. The poor should be helped.
Prepare your lessons. Your lessons should be prepared.
Love the children. The children should be loved.
Respect your teachers. Your teachers should be respected.
Read the text books carefully. Text books should be read carefully.

Negative Sentences

Active Passive
I do not like the man. The man is not liked by me.
He did not return the book. The book was not returned by him.
They have not solved the problem. The problem was not solved by them.
Did Ronaldo score a goal? Was a goal scored by Ronaldo?
Father did not write me a letter. A letter was not written me by father.
Has he not seen the match? Has not the match been seen by him?
Did not Rahul Dravid score a double century? Was not a double century scored by Rahul Dravid?

Passive of Intransitive Verbs

An Intransitive verb is used transitively when it has a Cognate Object and it can also be changed into the Passive Voice.

Cognate Object:

Active Passive
Soma Biswas ran a race. A race was run by Soma Biswas.
I dreamt a sweet dream. A sweet dream was dreamt by me.
They fought a fierce fight. A fierce fight was fought by them.
He laughed the last laugh. The last laugh was laughed by him.

In case of Prepositional Verbs:

Active Passive
They laughed at us. We were laughed at by them.
Students should listen to teachers. The teachers should be listened to by students.

Passive of Verbs with Retained Objects

In case of verbs with two objects, one of them is made the subject in the Passive Voice and the other remains unchanged and it is called the Retained Object.

Retain = Keep (something) in place

Active Passive
I wrote him a letter. A letter was written him by me.
He was written a letter by me.
He gave me a mango. A mango was given me by him.
I was given a mango by him.
Mr. Sen teaches us English. English is taught us by Mr. Sen.
We are taught English by Mr. Sen.
Sachin Tendulkar’s play gives us pleasure. Pleasure is given us by Sachin Tendulkar’s play.
We are given pleasure by Sachin Tendulkar’s play.

Reflexive Objects

The Reflexive Object can never be the subject in the Passive Voice:

  1. He praised himself.
  2. They blamed themselves.
Incorrect Correct
Himself was praised by him He was praised by himself.
Themselves were blamed by them. They were blamed by themselves.

Factitive Objects

The Factitive Object is used as a complement to the Transitive Verb. It is never used as the subject in the Passive Voice.

Active Passive
We made him Secretary. He was made Secretary.
Subjects made Ashoka king. Ashoka was made king by subjects.
The selectors elected Dravid captain. Dravid was elected captain by selectors.

Passive Voice with Other Prepositions

The Past Participles of some verbs are not followed by other preposition instead of ‘by’.

Active Passive
I know the man. The man is known to me.
We pleased them. They were pleased with us.
Your conduct shocked us. We were shocked at your conduct.

Passive Voice of Infinitives

Active Passive
I have many things to do. I have many things to be done.
You have promises to keep You have promises to be kept.
He has no time to lose now. He has no time to be lost now.
I am to do the work. The work is to be done by me.
Father has to attend the meeting. The meeting has to be attended by father.
He is to receive the guest. The guest is to be received by him.
He made me work. I was made to work.
I saw him play. He was seen to play.

Passive Voice without Doer

When the action is more important than the doer or the doer is unknown the object with by is understood or not mentioned.

Active Passive
He has lost his pen. His pen has been lost (by him).
Somenone has stolen my wrist-watch. My wrist-watch has been stolen (by someone).
One should keep one’s promises. Promises should be kept (by one).
Circumstances obliged me to go. I was obliged to go (by circumstances).
People use electricity in different purposes. Electricity is used in different purposes (by people).
We must endure what we cannot cure. What cannot be cured must be endured (by us).
People say that he is honest. It is said (by people) that he is honest.
People should not look down upon the poor. The poor should not be looked down upon (by people).
Authorities will prosecute tresspassers. Tresspassers will be prosecuted (by authorities).
We should overlook such trifle things. Such trifle things should be overlooked (by us).
Indians call Mahatma Gandhi ‘the Father of the Nation’. Mahatma Gandhi is called the Father of the Nation’ (by Indians).
The publisher brought out the English Grammar book. The English Grammar book has been brought out (by the publisher).
The examiner has given good marks to students. Students have been given good marks (by the examiner).
The fielder caught Ricky Ponting at first slip. Ricky Ponting was caught at first slip (by the fielder).
Devotees worship gods and goddesses in the temple. Gods and goddesses are worshipped in the temple (by devotees).
We can gain nothing without labour. Nothing can be gained without labour (by us).
We should not encourage indiscipline. Discipline should not be encouraged (by us).
People have elected a new government. A new government has been elected (by people).
The police arrested him. He was arrested (by the police).
People speak Bengali here. Bengali is spoken here (by people).

Quasi-Passive Voice

Quasi-Passive verbs are active in form but passive in sense.

Verbs with complements

Active Passive
This mango tastes sweet. This mango is sweet when it is tasted.
The book reads well. The book is well when it is read.
The jasmine smells sweet. The jasmine is sweet when it is smelt.
His skin feels rough. His skin is rough when it is felt.

Verbs without complements

Active Passive
The flat is building. The flat is being built.
The cows are milking. The cows are being milked.
The book is printing. The book is being printed.
The drums are beating. The drums are being beaten.

Exceptions The following quasi-passive voice cannot be changed into passive forms

Correct Incorrect
Vegetables sell cheap. Vegetables are cheap when they are sold.
Wind blows hard. Wind is hard when it is blown.

Passive Voice of Complex Sentences

In case of voice change of Complex Sentences, the voices of the transitive verb of both the Principal and Subordinate Clauses are changed. Introductory It is also sometimes used.

Active Passive
We must endure what we cannot cure. What cannot be cured must be endured.
Everybody knows that the radio was invented by Marconi. It is known to everybody that the radio was invented by Marconi.
They informed us that they would do the job. We were informed that the job would be done by them.

But in case there is only one transitive verb in the Complex Sentence, the voice of that verb is only changed.

Active Passive
He told me that he would come here. I was told that he would come.
We all know that the earth moves round the sun. It is known to all of us that the earth moves round the sun.

Exercise: Change into passive voice and vice versa

Change the voice of the following sentences:

1. We eat rice.

2. He has done the work.

3. She is singing a song.

4. They were playing football.

5. The hunter killed a deer.

6. We have worked out the sums.

7. You made a mistake.

8. We had done the work.

9. They will play cricket this afternoon.

10. Reba was praised by everybody.

11. The cat chased the rats.

12. Father was writing a letter.

13. I know the manager of the bank.

14. Sachin Tendulkar was applauded by the crowd for his gallant knock.

15. The news is being read by Vijay Daniel.

16. His story interested me greatly.

17. Samar Babu teaches us English.

18. I am writing him a letter.

19. They told me the story.

20. He lent me Rs. 100.

21. She told us the story.

22. The teacher asked me some questions.

23. The book was given me him.

24. I asked him his name.

25. Father bought me an English dictionary.

26. What is he doing there?

27. Who did the work?

28. What do you want?

29. By whom was it told?

30. Was he writing a letter?

31. Why do you laugh at the old man?

32. Is the boy liked by all?

33. Did I tell you this?

34. Have you done the homework?

35. Where did you find it?

36. How was it done by her?

37. Did you inform him?

38. Were they watching the cricket match?

39. Are the police investigating into the case?

40. Change the voice.

41. Open the doors and windows of the room.

42. Let him do it first.

43. Do it without further delay.

44. Let him be told to go.

45. Please lend me the pen.

46. Children should be loved.

47. Please do not smoke here.

48. Let the door be shut.

49. They may do the work.

50. You should attend the function.

51. One should obey one’s parents.

52. He must not do it.

53. We must endure what we cannot cure.

54. We should obey the laws of the country.

55. I can work out the sums.

56. We should always tell the truth.

57. I know that you would object to it.

58. He informed us that he was suffering from jaundice.

59. He told me that he had done the job.

60. It is said that the post mortem is not done in the case.

61. We hope that the work will be finished in time.

62. We know that Colombus discovered America.

63. I cannot depend on what he says.

64. The drum is beating.

65. He was knocked down by a lorry.

66. Promises should be kept.

67. I found the boy laughing at the old man.

68. It was completed in time.

69. What we cannot cure, we must endure.

70. Rahul Dravid was chosen captain of the Indian team.

71. The novel is selling well.

72. The rose smells sweet.

73. Honey tastes sweet.

74. May you live long.

75. The room needs immediate cleaning.

76. Our purpose has already been served.

77. By whom was the letter written?

78. You have to do the work.

79. We were surprised at his achievement.

80. God helps those who help themselves.

81. Our answers could not please him.