The active voice is the common voice we use. In the active voice the verb and the object are linked. The passive voice is the other way round – the verb and the subject are linked instead. The passive voice puts the subject first, and so can be used to make the subject sound more important.
Active: musicians play instruments
Passive: instruments are played by musicians
Active: someone has stolen my purse
Passive: my purse has been stolen by someone
The passive voice is constructed with the main auxiliary verb (is, are) and the past participle.
The past participle is modified in different ways depending on whether the verb is regular (played, watched) or irregular (shaken, thrown), but it is always the past participle for the passive voice.
Neutral: the guitar is strummed. The audience is delighted.
Question: Is the audience delighted? Has the guitar broken?
Negative: The guitar is not strummed. The audience is not delighted.
We can use the continuous form also.
Present: A guitar is being strummed by the man (we can state who is playing the guitar (the agent) using a suitable preposition (by))
Past: A guitar was being strummed with a plectrum (We add further detail with a preposition (with), but the agent is not revealed)
Active voice: I watched the man strum the guitar
Passive voice: The man was watched strumming the guitar.
Test your knowledge and take the test on Active/Passive Voices!