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Voice - English Grammer
3650    Dibyendu Banerjee    09/06/2018


In English grammar, voice does not mean the sound we make while we talk. It indicates whether the subject of a sentence is doing the action, or having the action done to it. Voice is the term used to describe whether a verb is active or passive. It describes the relationship between the action (or state) that the verb expresses and the participants identified by its arguments (subject, object, etc). It tells us whether the subject of the verb is acted upon or is acting.

Verbs are either active or passive in voice. Based on that, there are two types of voices in English language : active and passive.

The verb in an active sentence is said to be in the active voice. This means, if in a sentence, the subject is performing the action, the verb is said to be in the active voice. In other words, in active voice, the subject performs the action expressed by the verb. For example, let us take the sentence – ‘The boy ate the apple.’ In the sentence, ’the boy’ is the subject and ‘ate’ is the active verb. In other words, the subject ‘the boy’ did the verb ’ate’.

The verb in a passive sentence is said to be in the passive voice. Passive voice is used when the action is the focus, not the subject. It is not important (or not known) who does the action. In other words, in passive voice, the subject receives the action expressed by the verb. In the active voice, the subject and verb relationship is straightforward, while in the passive voice it is indirect. If we take the sentence – ‘The window is broken’, we do not know, who broke the window, or it is not important to know who broke the window.

Voice English Grammar
Voice English Grammar

While in active voice, sentences are shorter, more direct, more engaging for the reader and often less confusing and less ambiguous, passive voice are often considered as more polite, as it sounds less aggressive or dramatic. In some cases, use passive voice is needed to stress the action. Sometimes passive voice is also used to decorate the language.

Two basic rules should be followed for converting sentences from active voice to passive voice : the subject and the object should interchange their places in the sentence and the past participle form of the verb should be used as the main verb. However, the rules for using the Auxiliary verb in a sentence are different for each tense.

Active Voice Passive Voice

Mohan build a house.

A house is built by Mohan.

The doctor is advising the patient.

The patient is being advised by doctor.

I have finished my work.

My work has been finished by me.

I inspected the shop.

The shop was inspected by me.

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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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