In English Grammar, Voice is used to decide whether the verb is working actively or passively in a sentence. In this way, there are two broad classifications of voice, i.e. active voice and passive voice. If in a sentence, the subject acts as the doer of the action, then it is called as an active voice.
On the other hand, if the subject acts as the target or recipient of the action performed, then the voice is called as passive voice. Now, let’s look at these examples to understand them correctly:
- Active: Maria followed the thief.
Passive: The thief was followed by Maria.
- Active: She told me the truth.
Passive: The truth was told to me by Maria.
In the given examples, you might have noticed, that when the sentence is in the active voice, the focus is on the subject, but when we converted the sentence to passive voice, the focus is shifted to the action.
Content: Active Voice Vs Passive Voice
|Basis for Comparison||Active Voice||Passive Voice|
|Meaning||Active Voice refers to that type of voice, wherein the subject carries out the action designated by the verb.||Passive Voice is a kind of voice, wherein the subject acts as the recipient of the action.|
|Subject||Acts upon the verb||Acted upon by the verb|
|Position||As the subject is responsible for the action, it appears at the first place.||Object on which the action is performed, appears as the first place, while the actor appears at the end.|
|Example||I am playing cricket.||Cricket is being played by me.|
|She sent an email to the Human Resource Manager.||An email was sent by her to the Human Resource Manager.|
|Let me put it there.||Let it be put there by me.|
Definition of Active Voice
Active Voice can be understood as the form of writing which depicts when the subject is carrying out the action indicated by the verb and takes the object directly. The subject is the person or thing which we are talking about, and the object is the person or thing to which the given action is targeted.
In an active voice, as the subject does the action directed by the verb, it is expressed as an agent of the main verb. Let’s look at these examples, for better understanding:
- John likes Mary
- The policeman encountered the criminal.
- He steals the apple.
- Children are making a painting for a school exhibition.
- I was cooking food last night.
- Let me do it.
Definition of Passive Voice
Passive Voice refers to the style of writing, which we use when instead of emphasizing the subject we put stress on the action, i.e. the verb and the object thereon.
Passive voice is also suitable when the actor is not known or is not important, or you want to lay emphashis on the person or thing on which the action took place. It can also be used when the discussion is made on a universal fact or truth. Take a glance at the examples given below:
- Mary is liked by John
- The criminal was encountered by the policeman.
- The apple is stolen by him
- Painting is being made by the children for school exhibition.
- Food was being cooked by me, last night.
- Let it be done by me.
Key Differences Active and Passive Voice
The points given below are substantial so far as the difference between active and passive voice is concerned:
- When in a sentence, it is the subject which performs or completes the action, it is called as active voice. On the contrary, when in a sentence, the action is received by the subject, then it is called as a passive voice.
- In an active voice, it is the subject which acts upon the verb, whereas in the passive voice, the subject is being acted upon by the verb.
- In an active voice, as the actor is the subject himself, who is responsible for the concerned action, it appears at the first place. As against, in a passive voice, the person or thing, on which the action takes place, appears at the first place, while the actor comes at the end, indicated with the preposition ‘by’.
|Tenses||Active Voice||Passive Voice|
|Simple Present Tense||Subject + Base form of verb + Object||Object + is/am/are + Past participle form of verb + by + Subject|
|I play football.||Football is played by me.|
|Present Continuous Tense||Subject + is/am/are + Present Participle form of verb + Object||Object + is/am/are + being + Past participle form of verb + by + Subject|
|I am playing football.||Football is being played by me.|
|Present Perfect Tense||Subject + has/have + Past participle form of verb + Object||Object + has/have + been + Past participle form of verb + by + Subject|
|I have played football.||Football has been played by me.|
|Simple Past Tense||Subject + Past simple form of verb + Object||Object + was/were + Past participle form of verb + by + Subject|
|I played football.||Football was played by me.|
|Past Continuous Tense||Subject + was/were + Present Participle form of verb + Object||Object + was/were + being + Past participle form of verb + by + Subject|
|I was playing football.||Football was being played by me.|
|Present Perfect Tense||Subject + had + Past participle form of verb + Object||Object + had been + Past participle form of verb + by + Subject|
|I had played football.||Football had been played by me.|
|Simple Future Tense||Subject + will + Base form of verb + Object||Object + will be + Past participle form of verb + by + Subject|
|I will play football.||Football will be played by me.|
|Future Perfect Tense||Subject + will have + Past participle form of verb + Object||Object + will have been + Past participle form of verb + by + Subject|
|I will have played football.||Football will have been played by me.|
- Active: Her parents helped her in completing the project on time.
Passive: She was helped by her parents, in completing the project on time.
- Active: I am learning English from an expert.
Passive: English is being learnt by me, from an expert.
- Active: They handed over me the basket full of fruits.
Passive: The basket full of fruits, was handed over to me by them.
- Active: John is buying a new laptop.
Passive: A new laptop is being bought by John.
How to remember the difference
In general, we mainly use the active voice, for writing purposes, to make the sentence more simple, direct and easy to understand. On the other hand, passive voice is mainly used in legal writing and for stylistic writing.