Passive Voice

May 12, 2021

Everyone drinks water.
Water is drunk by everyone.

“Voice” is a grammatical category that applies to verbs. Voice in English expresses the relationship of the subject to the action. Voice has two values:

  • active: the subject does the action
  • passive: the subject receives the action
ShakespearewroteHamlet.   
  Hamletwas writtenbyShakespeare.

The active voice is the “normal” voice – the one that we use most of the time. In the active voice, the object receives the action of the verb:

activesubjectverbobject
 
Catseatmice.

The passive voice is less common. In the passive voice, the subject receives the action of the verb:

passivesubjectverbobject
 
Miceare eatenby cats.

See how the object of the active verb becomes the subject of the passive verb:

 subjectverbobject
activeEverybodydrinkswater.
passiveWateris drunkby everybody.

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