How to Write Active and Passive English Sentences
The first style decision is writing with a voice. Writers have to choose to write an
active or passive English Sentence.
In an active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action of the verb. The
active voice of a verb simply denotes the form of the verb used when the subject is the
doer of the action.
Example: The windstorm broke the window.
The passive voice of a verb is the form of the verb is used when the subject is being
acted upon rather than performing the action. In a passive voice, the subject of the
sentence is affected by the action of the verb. The passive should only be used if the
focus or importance is required for the receiver of the action.
Example: The window was broken during the storm.
Using the appropriate tense of the verb "to be" and adding the past participle usually
forms a passive voice sentence. In the following examples note that the tense of the verb
to be in the passive voice is the same as the tense of the main verb in the active voice.
Example verb: to keep
Verb tense or form --- active voice --- passive voice
Simple present --- keeps --- is kept
Present continuous --- is keeping --- is being kept
Simple past --- kept --- was kept
Past continuous --- was keeping --- was being kept
Present perfect --- have kept --- have been kept
Past perfect --- had kept --- had been kept
future --- will keep --- will be kept
Conditional present --- would keep --- would be kept
Conditional past --- would have kept --- would have been kept
present infinitive --- to keep --- to be kept
perfect infinitive --- to have kept --- to have been kept
present participle --- keeping --- being kept
perfect participle --- having kept --- having been kept
Active: I keep the milk in the fridge.
Passive: The milk is kept in the fridge.
Active: They stole the car.
Passive: The car was stolen.
Active: They are repairing the roof.
Passive: The roof is being repaired.
Active: A dog bit him.
Passive: He was bitten by a dog.
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For additional English writing tips and examples go to the following links
How to write English Sentences - Introduction
How to write English Sentences 1 - start with a basic thought
How to write English Sentences 2 - choose one of the six basic sentence constructions
How to write English Sentences 3 - choose one of the four sentence types
How to write English Sentences 4 - choose the correct English verb tenses
How to write English Sentences 4a - choose the active or passive voice
How to write English Sentences 5 using Nouns
How to write English Sentences 6 using Noun Phrases
How to write English Sentences using Articles
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