When To Use The Passive Voice

The active voice is used when the subject is to be made prominent. The passive voice is used when the object is to be made prominent.

The passive voice is preferred to the active voice in the following cases:

1. When the doer of the action is not known or when it doesn’t matter who performed the action.

  • The patient was carried home. (Passive) It doesn’t matter who carried the patient home: must have been his friends or relatives.

2. When the subject in the active voice is clear from the context.

  • She was dismissed. (Who dismissed her? Must be her mistress)

Passive voice exercise

Change the following sentences into the passive.

1. This pot contains water.
2. They built this house in 1990.
3. She laughed at the beggar.
4. We will not help them.
5. The masons are building the house.
6. She has done her work.
7. Have you kept the secret?
8. They sent me a message.
9. He listened to me.
10. Did he stare at you?

Answers

1. Water is contained in this pot.
2. This house was built in 1990 by them.
3. The beggar was laughed at by her.
4. They will not be helped by us.
5. The house is being built by the masons.
6. Her work has been done by her.
7. Has the secret been kept by you?
8. I was sent a message by them. OR A message was sent to me by them.
9. I was listened to by them.
10. Were you stared at by him?

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