Lecture Notes Grammar: Voice and Narration Voice Objectives: Identify active and passive voice constructions Explain the functions of active and passive voice Use voice correctly What is voice? Voice is a grammatical category that applies to the verb in a sentence. It shows the relationship between the doer of an action (subject) and the receiver of that action (object). The action remains the same, but the focus changes depending upon the context. For example: Do not cross the line. (direct, crisp and to the point) You must not cross the line. (indirect & polite with firmness) There are two types of voices in English- active voice and passive voice. Active Voice Focuses on the subject Direct Unambiguous Easy to understand Useful in delegating responsibilities, giving orders to an individual or to a small group Using active voice makes meaning clear for the readers/listeners and keeps the sentence from being complicated and wordy. Passive Voice: Subject is unknown Indirect Ambiguous Unclear Usage: When the subject is unknown, unimportant and obvious To make polite statement and is used for general announcements. For example, in airports, railway station etc. Risk of sounding boastful When the action is more important than the “Agent” [Agent = one who does the action]
We don’t mention the Agent in a passive voice when: 1. if we don’t know who has done what we are talking about. Our car was stolen last night. (We don’t know who stole it) 2. if we are not interested in who has done what we are talking about or it is not important to mention it. He has been taken to the hospital. (What we are interested in is the fact that he has been taken to the hospital and not who has taken him.) 3. if it is easy to understand who did something without it being mentioned. The murderer was arrested last night. (It is not necessary to mention that he has been arrested by the police because it is self-evident.) 4. if the subject of the active voice sentence is something like somebody, people, they, you, etc. Someone broke the window. → The window was broken. Active Voice and Passive Voice in different Tenses: Active Voice Different Verbs and tenses Passive Voice Structural Patterns when changed into Passive Voice S+ am /is/are+ ptcp Present Simple The letters are written by him Past simple The letters were written by him. The letters are being written by him The letters were being written by him. The letters will be written by him. S+ was/were+ ptcp The letters are going to be written. The letters have been written by him. The letters had been written by him. The letters have to be written by him. The letters must be written by him. S+V to be (am/is/are)going to+ ptcp S+ have/has +been+ ptcp He writes the letters He wrote the letters Present Continuous He is writing the letters Past Continuous He was writing the letters Future Simple He will write the letters He is going to write the letters He has written the letters He had written the letters Going to Present Perfect Tense Past Perfect Tense to-Infinitive He has to write the letters Modal He must write the letters S+ is/are being+ ptcp S+ were being+ Ptcp S+ will be + ptcp S+ had +been +ptcp S + have + to+be +ptcp S+ must+ be +ptcp
RULES: 1. Only sentences containing transitive verbs [verbs that takes one or more than one object(s). For example, paint, write, eat, clean, etc.] can be changed from active voice to passive voice. A subject—that is, a ‘doer’ of the action—is required to change a sentence from the passive to the active voice. Active Voice Agatha Christie wrote the book. Passive Voice The book was written by Agatha Christie. 2. For the Simple Present Tense use am, is or are with a Past Participle to form the Passive Voice. Active voice Passive voice Once a week, Tom cleans the house. Once a week, the house is cleaned by Tom. The waiter carries the trays. The trays are carried by the waiter. 3. For the Simple Past Tense, use was or were with a Past Participle to form the Passive Voice. Active voice Dad drove us home. He caught the ball. 4. For the Present Continuous Tense, use am, is or are with being followed by a Past Participle, to form the Passive Voice. Active voice The waves are washing away the sandcastle. She is working on the computer. 5. Passive voice The Sandcastle is being washed away by the waves. The computer is being worked upon by her. For the Past Continuous Tense, use was or were with being, followed by a Past Participle, to form the passive voice. Active voice Jimmy was making our costumes. She was reading a book. 6. Passive voice We were driven home by Dad. The ball was caught by him. Passive voice Our costumes were being made by Jimmy. The book was being read by her. For the Future Tense, use shall or will with be, followed by a Past Participle, to form the Passive Voice. Active voice The choir will sing the next hymn. We will celebrate her birthday. Passive voice The next hymn will be sung by the choir. Her birthday will be celebrated by us.
7. For the Present Perfect Tense, use have or has with been, followed by a Past Participle, to form the Passive Voice. Active voice Ali has scored two goals. I have seen that movie. 8. Passive voice Two goals have been scored by Ali. That movie has been seen by me. For the Past Perfect Tense, use had with been, followed by a Part Participle, to form the passive voice. Active voice Passive voice The hunter had caught a fox. A fox had been caught by the hunter. Sheila had given a gift to Rina. A gift had been given to Rina by Sheila. 9. “Do” verbs: The do-verb is used for interrogative and negative sentences. To change an interrogative sentence with ‘do’ from active voice form into passive voice form, use – Is/are/am +object of the active verb + past participle form of the verb + by + subject of the passive verb Active Voice Passive Voice Do you speak French? Is French spoken by you? Does she speak French? Is French spoken by her? Does she do her duties? Are her duties done by her? Did you speak in French with her? Was she spoken in French by you? Did Alice invite you? Were you invited by Alice? Don’t you speak French? Isn’t French spoken by you? I don’t speak French. French is not spoken by me. Interrogatives: 10. Wh- questions and how In wh- questions and how, do not change their beginning position when the sentence is changed from the active to the passive. Except for, who changes to by whom in the passive; (by) whom changes to who in the passive.