Passive voice sentences the subject is subject to the action of the verb, or phrase that describes what happens to the subject of the sentence, while the active sentence is a sentence that states the subject of the sentence does what.
Use of Passive
Passive voice is used when the focus is on the action. It is not important or not known, however, who or what is performing the action.
Example: My bike was stolen.
In the example above, the focus is on the fact that my bike was stolen. I do not know, however, who did it.
Sometimes a statement in passive is more polite than active voice, as the following example shows:
Example: A mistake was made.
In this case, I focus on the fact that a mistake was made, but I do not blame anyone .
Form of Passive
Subject + finite form of to be + Past Participle (3rd column of irregular verbs)
Example: A letter was written.
When rewriting active sentences in passive voice, note the following:
- the object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence
- the finite form of the verb is changed (to be + past participle)
- the subject of the active sentence becomes the object of the passive sentence (or is dropped)
Examples of Passive
|Simple Present||Active:||Rita||writes||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||is written||by Rita.|
|Simple Past||Active:||Rita||wrote||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||was written||by Rita.|
|Present Perfect||Active:||Rita||has written||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||has been written||by Rita.|
|Future I||Active:||Rita||will write||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||will be written||by Rita.|
|Hilfsverben||Active:||Rita||can write||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||can be written||by Rita.|
Examples of Passive
|Present Progressive||Active:||Rita||is writing||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||is being written||by Rita.|
|Past Progressive||Active:||Rita||was writing||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||was being written||by Rita.|
|Past Perfect||Active:||Rita||had written||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||had been written||by Rita.|
|Future II||Active:||Rita||will have written||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||will have been written||by Rita.|
|Conditional I||Active:||Rita||would write||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||would be written||by Rita.|
|Conditional II||Active:||Rita||would have written||a letter.|
|Passive:||A letter||would have been written||by Rita.|
Passive Sentences with Two Objects
Rewriting an active sentence with two objects in passive voice means that one of the two objects becomes the subject, the other one remains an object. Which object to transform into a subject depends on what you want to put the focus on.
|Subject||Verb||Object 1||Object 2|
|Active:||Rita||wrote||a letter||to me.|
|Passive:||A letter||was written||to me||by Rita.|
|Passive:||I||was written||a letter||by Rita.|
As you can see in the examples, adding by Rita does not sound very elegant. That’s why it is usually dropped.
Personal and Impersonal Passive
Personal Passive simply means that the object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence. So every verb that needs an object (transitive verb) can form a personal passive.
Example: They build houses. – Houses are built.
Verbs without an object (intransitive verb) normally cannot form a personal passive sentence (as there is no object that can become the subject of the passive sentence). If you want to use an intransitive verb in passive voice, you need an impersonal construction – therefore this passive is called Impersonal Passive.
Example: he says – it is said
Impersonal Passive is not as common in English as in some other languages (e.g. German, Latin). In English, Impersonal Passive is only possible with verbs of perception (e. g. say, think, know).
Example: They say that women live longer than men. – It is said that women live longer than men.
Although Impersonal Passive is possible here, Personal Passive is more common.
Example: They say that women live longer than men. – Women are said to live longer than men.
The subject of the subordinate clause (women) goes to the beginning of the sentence; the verb of perception is put into passive voice. The rest of the sentence is added using an infinitive construction with ‘to’ (certain auxiliary verbs and that are dropped).
Sometimes the term Personal Passive is used in English lessons if the indirect object of an active sentence is to become the subject of the passive sentence.
Many people are fairly comfortable with the idea of nouns, but they might not feel so confident when it comes to the idea of a noun clause. Noun clauses come in a variety of forms; and learning about each form is the best way to understand the concept of noun clauses. Lots of noun clauses in English start with that, how, or a “wh”-word (i.e., what, who, which, when, where, why).
What Is a Noun Clause?
A noun clause is a clause that functions as a noun. However, for many, that definition is too generic.
A multi-word noun will often contain another type of clause, usually an adjective clause, which provides the verb required for a clause.
A noun clause is a dependent clause that acts as a noun. Noun clauses begin with words such as how, that, what, whatever, when, where, whether, which, whichever, who, whoever, whom, whomever, and why. Noun clauses can act as subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, predicate nominatives, or objects of a preposition.
Purpose of a Noun Clause
Noun clauses can be used in a number of ways, and they serve different purposes. First and foremost, please recognize that these clauses are dependent clauses. A dependent clause is one that cannot stand by itself. If a dependent clause is placed alone, it forms a fragment, not a sentence. An independent clause can act as a sentence by itself, but dependent clauses cannot.
Subject of a Verb
A noun clause can act as a subject of a verb, and we will break down what that means after a couple of examples. This clause is acting as the subject of a verb is present in:
What Alicia said made her friends cry.
What Megan wrote surprised her family.
What the man did was not very polite.
When there’s a verb in the sentence, you must find the subject. Therefore, in the first we can ask “What made?” and the answer is “What Alicia said.” Therefore, “What Alicia said” is the subject of that verb. In the next case, we can ask “What surprised?” and the answer is “What Megan wrote.” Do you now see how a noun clause can act as a subject of a verb?
Object of a Verb
In the same vein, noun clauses can also act as the object of a verb:
She didn’t know that the directions were wrong.
He didn’t realize that the stove was off.
They now understand that you should not cheat on a test.
Once again, we can use the method of questioning to demonstrate how the noun clause is being used. What didn’t she know? What didn’t he realize? And what do they now understand? The answer in all three cases is the noun clause!
Let’s pick up the pace a little bit, and let’s see if you can figure out how these noun clauses are actually answers to questions within the sentence.
Carlie’s problem was that she didn’t do the wash.
Harry’s crowning achievement was his 4.0 GPA.
Darla’s television was a 60 inch screen.
Once again, do you see what questions these noun clauses answer and how they relate to the subject? What was Carlie’s problem? What was Harry’s crowning achievement? What was Darla’s television? Without these clauses, the sentences would not be complete thoughts grammaticaly, nor would they sound complete at all.
Object of a Preposition
Noun clauses also act as objects of a preposition.
Harry is not the provider of what Margie needs.
Josephine is not resposible for what Alex decided to do.
Allie is the owner of that blue car.
Once again, Harry is not the provider of what? Josephine is not responsible for what? Allie is the owner of what?
Last but not least, a noun clause can also act as an adjective complement.
The group is happy that Meg returned home.
The child is sad that his stomach hurts.
The family is excited that they bought a new house.
One more time with feeling: Why is the group happy? Why is the child sad? Why is the family excited?
Selecting a Type of Noun Clause
Using noun clauses in everyday speech is a fairly common practice, as noun clauses add often crucial information to sentences. However, learning to differentiate between the various types can be difficult.
If you’re in a position where you have to decide which form the noun clause is taking, consider the options carefully, and consult a grammar guide if you need additional assistance.
Noun Clause Examples
Whoever thought of that idea is a genius.
( Whoever thought of that idea is a noun clause. It contains the subject whoever and the verb thought. The clause acts as a subject in the sentence.)
On weekends, we can do whatever we want.
( Whatever we want is a noun clause. It contains the subject we and the verb want. The clause acts as a direct object in the sentence.)
The focus of our work is how we can satisfy customers most effectively.
( How we can satisfy customers most effectively is a noun clause. It contains the subject we and the verb phrase can satisfy. The clause acts as a predicate nominative in the sentence, identifying focus.)
Choose a gift for whomever you want.
( Whomever you want is a noun clause. It contains the subject you and the verb want. The clause acts as an object of the preposition for in the sentence.)
Whichever restaurant you pick is fine with me.
( Whichever restaurant you pick is a noun clause. It contains the subject you and the verb pick. The clause acts as a subject in the sentence.)
Be sure to send whoever interviewed you a thank-you note.
( Whoever interviewed you is a noun clause. It contains the subject whoever and the verb interviewed. The clause acts as an indirect object in the sentence.)
Do you know what the weather will be?
( What the weather will be is a noun clause. It contains the subject weather and the verb phrase will be. The clause acts as a direct object in the sentence.)
My greatest asset is that I am a hard worker.
( That I am a hard worker is a noun clause. It contains the subject I and the verb am. The clause acts as a predicate nominative in the sentence, identifying asset.)
It’s important to think about why we make certain decisions.
( Why we make certain decisions is a noun clause. It contains the subject we and the verb make. The clause acts as an object of the preposition about in the sentence.)
I wonder how long we should wait here.
( How long we should wait here is a noun clause. It contains the subject we and the verb phrase should wait. The clause acts as a direct object in the sentence.)
Always give whichever audience you perform for a great show.
( Whichever audience you perform for is a noun clause. It contains the subject you and the verb perform. The clause acts as an indirect object in the sentence.)
I’m packing extra snacks for when we get hungry.
( When we get hungry is a noun clause. It contains the subject we and the verb get. The clause acts as an object of the preposition for in the sentence.)