What is Passive Voice?

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What is Passive Voice?
In English grammar, passive voice refers to a situation in which the subject of a particular sentence or a clause is considered the recipient of the action or verb. This is the opposite of an active voice wherein the sentence construction involves the subject as the one “actively” doing or performing the action. And similarly, if the sentence is constructed and written with a “passive voice”, the verb involved will also take the form of a “passive verb”.

In the sentence example, “Gabriel eats chips.”, the subject is Gabriel and is actively “doing” the verb which is “eats”. In this same sentence the object is “chips” and this is what receives the verb “eats”, so this is an example of an active voice sentence construction. If this sentence were re-phrased to something like “The chips were eaten by Gabriel”, the “chips”, which used to be the object in the original sentence, now becomes the subject and the recipient of the action “were eaten”. “Were eaten” now becomes a passive verb which makes this second sentence a passive voice sentence construction.

For many people, identifying between a passive voice and active voice may be easy. But for some people, it may be quite difficult to fully understand the basics of sentence structure. For most of these people, as long as the sentence is written and understood, then there’s no more point in arguing how it is constructed or what English grammars rules are supposed to be followed in constructing them. Words are a means of communication for them and not a source of mental calisthenics and possible headache.
Some experts also discourage the use of passive voice construction in sentences. But there is no absolute rule on when to use or when not to use passive voice in a particular sentence. It is up to the person and writer if he/she deems that active or passive voice is necessary in constructing his/her sentences, depending on which part he/she wants to put emphasis on.


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