Active to Passive Voice Conversion

What is Voice?

“A Grammar of Contemporary English” defines Voice as “voice is a grammatical category which makes it possible to view the action of a sentence in two ways, without change in the facts reported”. One and the same idea can often be expressed in two different ways, by means of an active, and by means of a passive construction.

1. Active Voice

Active voice is used to indicate the grammatical subject of the verb is performing the action or causing the happening denoted by the verb. With the active voice, you learn ‘who’ or ‘what’ is responsible for the action at the beginning of the sentence. In other words, the subject performs the action denoted by the verb. With help of active voice more powerful sentences can be build than passive voice.

Use of active voice:

1. Active voice is used in a clause whose subject expresses the agent of the main verb.
2. Subject can be easily identified by asking ‘who’ or ‘what’ to the verb.
3. Sentences are short and easily understandable.

Example :
John wrote the letter.
    -John (subject) performs the action denoted by the verb (write).

2. Passive Voice

In Passive voice the sentence focus on object i.e. who/what is receiving the action and not on who/what is performing the action. In passive voice, the actor of the of the verb (action) is either understood at the end of the sentence or maybe not told. The passive voice is used in writing facts, truth, lab or technical reports in which the actor is not important or unknown, but the action happening on the object is very important.

Use of passive voice:

1. It is used if it doesn‘t need to know or we don‘t know the actor performing the job.
2. In the end of the clause or sentence “by” is prefixed to know the actor performing the job.
3. It is used if we are more interested in the job than the actors who work.

Example :

The letter was written by John.
    - letter receives the action denoted by the write (verb).

How to identify the active / passive voice?

Ask who/what performed the action(verb)? -- if the ‘who or what is at the beginning of the sentence, the sentence is active voice.

Example :

Jack is eating the apple.

Question will be : Who is eating the apple?  
Look for the word “by”, if present it is passive voice.

Active/Passive voice using Modals:

The modal verbs consist of will, would, can, could, shall, should, may, might, must which are
used with main verbs to express ability, probability, obligation, advice etc.
To convert active voice having modal into passive voice, auxiliary verb “be” is added after modal in sentence.

Rules for Active to Passive conversion


Active voice

Passive voice

Simple Present Tense

Subject + infinitive + object

E.g.  The grocer sells fresh vegetables.

S + to be + past participle + by object

E.g.  Fresh vegetables are sold by the grocer.

Present Continuous Tense

Subject + to be (is, am, are) being + present participle + object

E.g.  My boss is giving many assignments.

S + to be (is, am, are) + being + past participle + by object

E.g.  Many assignments are being given by my boss.

Present Perfect Tense

Subject + has/have + past participle + object

E.g.   I have taken him out.

S + have/has been + past participle + by object

E.g.  He has been taken out by me.

Simple Past Tense

Subject + past participle + object

E.g.  He built a large house.

S + was/were + past participle + by object

E.g.  A large house was built by him.

Past Continuous Tense

S + was/were + being + past participle + object

E.g  She was cooking dinner.

S + was/were + being + past participle +by object

E.g.  Dinner was being cooked by her.

Past Perfect Tense

Subject + had + past participle + object

E.g.  She had posted the letter.

S + had been + past participle + by object

E.g.  The letter had been posted by her.

Simple Future Tense

Subject + will + infinitive + object

E.g.  I will give you a present.

S + will + be + past participle + by object

E.g.  A present will be given to you by me.

Future Perfect Tense

Subject + would + infinitive + object

E.g.  The doctor shall have examined ten patients by 10 O’clock.

S + would + be + past participle + by object

E.g.  Ten patients will have been examined by 10 O’clock by the doctor.


Rules for Pronouns in Active to Passive conversion

Active voice

Passive voice












Pronoun number and person table








I -> am

you -> are 

he,she,it -> is

John,Sara -> is


 we -> are 

you -> are

they -> are