Glossary: voice


English has two voices: active and passive. It's easiest to see the difference in sentences with action verbs, for instance Anna threw the ball (active) versus The ball was thrown by Anna (passive). In the active example, the Subject (Anna) is the agent of the action and the Direct Object (the ball) is the patient, while in the passive the patient becomes the Subject. The passive is formed with the auxiliary verb be followed by a verb in the -ed participle form.

Changing voice


  • Practise changing voice: from active sentences to passive, and passive sentences to active.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will practise turning actives into passives, and passives into actives.

Activity 1 in the right hand menu presents students with active sentences. Ask students to work individually, in pairs, or in groups and to write down a passive version of the sentence.

Changing voice: Activity 1

Two guards examined the BMW. → The BMW was examined by two guards.

Renoir painted the same road a few months later. → The same road was painted by Renoir a few months later.

His critics were attacking him on all sides. → He was being attacked by his critics on all sides.

Changing voice: Activity 2

The leader of the party is elected by the political party. → The political party elects the leader of the party.

The full costs of their care are met by the NHS. → The NHS meets the full costs of their care.


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