The Active and Passive Voice

Active Voice

A lot of people saw the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Subject Verb Object
A lot of people  saw the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Agent = the person or thing that does or performs the action.
Who is doing the verb, the seeing?  A lot of people

When the agent is in the subject position, we call this kind of sentence an active voice sentence.


Passive Voice

Subject Verb Object
The movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. was seen by a lot of people.

Where is the doer of the action (seeing)?  It is in the object position and is preceded by the preposition by.
When the agent is in the object position or if it is not mentioned, then the sentence will be a passive voice sentence.

Where are most American films made?

American films are made in Hollywood.

What is the subject?
Is American films the agent?  The doer of the verb, make?
Is the agent mentioned?  
If you wanted to put an agent, who would be the agent, the maker of the films?
What is the time of the verb?   

The winner's name will be announced.

What is the subject?
Is American films the agent?  The doer of the verb, make?
Is the agent mentioned?  
What is the time of the verb?  

 

Is the passive voice a verb tense?   NO

Voice is a perspective.  Voice focuses the attention on the agent or on the receiver of the action.

How do you form the passive voice?

1. Move the object of the sentence to the subject position.
2. Move the agent to object position of the sentence. (Sometimes it is not necessary to mention the agent.)
    (Put by in front of the agent.)
3.  You need to use the same tense for the BE verb and then you add the past participle. (The past participle is the third form of the verb. For regular verbs you add -ed. For irregular verbs, look at the back of your book, pages AP32-AP34. The past participles of irregular verbs are found in the third column.) You must memorize the third form of the verbs.
4.  The verb must match the same verb time, but  there must also be subject verb agreement.
  

Tense Active Voice Passive Voice
Simple Present A committee chooses the best actor. The best actor is chosen by a committee.
Present continuous They are presenting an award now. An award is being presented now.
Future They will pick the best movie.
They are going to pick the best movie.

 

The best movie will be picked.
The best movie is going to be picked.
Simple Past They announced the winner's name. The winner's name was announced.
Past Continuous They were taking photographs. Photographs were being taken.
Present Perfect They have chosen the best movie. The best movie has been chosen.
Modal They should announce the winner's name. The winner's name should be announced.

Never use the helping verb do, does, did when you make a passive voice question.

Where was the film made?    Where did the film made?

Change these sentences to the passive voice (if possible).

  1. Snow blanketed the city streets.
  2. Detectives solve mysteries.
  3. Someone has stolen the jewels.
  4. He was bothering her.

 

 


Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Intransitive Verbs:  agree, arrive, be, become, come, die, fall, go, happen, live, look, occur, rain, recover, remain, seem, sleep, stay, walk, work, etc.

In English you have transitive and intransitive verbs.  Transitive verbs you can put an object after the verb.  Intransitive verbs you cannot put an object after the verb.

Transitive
Subject Verb Object
A storm destroyed his house.

 

Intransitive
Subject Verb  
My sister came.  

With intransitive verbs you need to put a prepositional phrase or an adverb.

My sister came the house.

My sister came to my house. (You can add a prepositional phrase.)
My sister came late. (You can add an adverb phrase.)

You can't change sentences to the passive voice when the verb is intransitive.

Johnny Depp is an actor.
An actor is been by Johnny Depp.

I go to a lot of movies.   go = intransitive verb  (You don't put a direct object after these verbs.)
A lot of movies are gone to by me.

Sometimes a verb can be both transitive and intransitive.  The meanings are different.

Look at the verb RUN.

He runs around the track three times.   Intransitive
Around the track three times is run by him. (No passive voice)

Bill runs a small business.  Transitive
A small business is run by Bill. (Yes, passive voice.)

Look at page 71 of Grammar in Context 3, for more examples of verbs that can be both transitive and intransitive.  Look at the differences in meaning.