Active and Passive Sentence – Complete Explanation

English Grammar

Our parent must be proud of us if we can speak English fluently. I am sure you want to make your parent proud of you, right? So, you must learn English diligently. You can visit this website to learn English. You can find English grammar material and its exercise here.

Well, in this occasion, I will give explanation about Active and Passive Sentence.
Do you ever hear about this material before? If you are not, please pay attention my explanation about this material and read this material carefully. Oke, check this out.

Active and Passive Contrasted

Sentences can be active or passive in English. An active sentence has the subject first (the person or thing that does the verb), followed by the verb, and finally the object (the person or thing that the action happens to).

Type of sentence Subject Verb Object
Active sentence: John drove the car
Passive sentence: The car was driven by John.

In passive sentences we put the object first, then the verb and finally the subject (if known).

We can only form a passive sentence from an active sentence when there is an object in the active sentence. Some verbs (intransitive) do not have objects: arrivecry, work, laugh, and talk are intransitive verbs: and cannot be made passive

  • Peter arrived home.
  • She was crying.
  • I work for a bank in London.
  • They laughed non stop.
  • We talked for hours.

Passive – Use

We only use the passive when we are interested in the object or when we do not know who caused the action.

  • When we want to change the focus of the sentence:
    • Romeo and Juliet was written by Shakespeare (We are more interested in the play than the writer in this sentence)
  • When who or what does the action is unknown, unimportant, obvious or ‘people in general’:
    • My car has been stolen (unknown agent).
    • My computer is being repaired (unimportant agent).
    • He was arrested (obvious agent, the police).
    • Mobile phones must be switched off. (people in general).
  • In factual or scientific writing:
    • The mixture is placed in a test tube and heated.

Passive – Form

to be + past participle

  • object of the active sentence becomes subject in the passive sentence
  • subject of the active sentence becomes object in the passive sentence (or is left out)

How to change active sentence into passive sentence :

  1. The active sentence must be consist of object (transitif verb). If there is no object, it must be contain question word that asks the object.
  2. Object of active sentence become subject of passive sentence
  3. Subject of active sentence become object of passive sentence that begin with “by”
  4. The verb that be used is Verb-III (Past Participle) that bigin with ‘to be’
  5. The change of verb is as below:
Active Passive
verb I (am/is/are) + verb III
verb II (was/were) + verb III
verb III been + verb III
verb+Ing being + verb III
modal + verb I
(modal : will, can, could, etc)
modal + be + verb III
(modal : will, can, could, etc.)
Do/does verb I (am/is/are) verb III
Did verb I (was/were) verb III

Pay attention to the example below :

  • The Simple Present

He reads a book                   = A book is read by him

He does not read a book     = A book is not read by him

Does he read a book?          = Is a book read by him?

What does he write?                         = What is written by him?

  • The Present Continuous

He is selling his motorcycle            = His motorcycle is being sold by him

Who is selling his motorcycle?= Whom is his motorcycle being sold by?

  • The Present Perfect

He has deceived us              = We have been deceived by him

Why has he deceived us?   = Why have we been deceived by him?

  • The Present Perfect continuous   

Anton has been bringing his bag    = His bag has been being brought by Anton

  • The Simple Past

We spoke English                    = English was spoken by us.

  • The Past Continuous

What were we speaking?       = What was being spoken by us!

  • The Past Perfect

How had we spoken English?      = How had English been spoken by us?

  • The Present Perfect continuous

She had been cooking noodle              = Noodle had been being cooked by her

  • The Simple Future

I will wait her                                    = She will be waited by me

  • The Future Continuous

She will be inviting you                   = You will be being invited by her

  • The Future Perfect

Who will have invited him?            = By whom will he have been invited?

  • The Futuree Perfect continuous

She will have been calling him       = He will have been being called by her

  • The Simple Past Future

I would treat you                               = You would be treated by me

  • The Past Future Continuous

They would be visiting you           = You would be being visited by them?

  • The Past Future Perfect

I would have been reading a magazine=A magazine would have been being read by me

  • The Past Present Perfect continuous

We would have been reading a magazine = A magazine would have been being read by us


Must/Had to Will/Would
Have to/Had to
+ Verb-I Can/Could
Must/Had to Will/Would
Have to/Had to
+ be+ Verb-III

Example :

  1. I will buy laptop = Laptop will be bought by me
  2. I can see your eyes = Your eyes can be seen by me
  3. You have to do your homework = Your homework has to be done by you
  4. Who can help you ? = By whom can you be helped?
  5. Whom can you help? = Who can be helped by you?

I think my explanation about the point above is enough. If you have a question about the grammar rule I have just explained just now, you can write a comment in the comment form below. I will feel happy to answer your question or may be if you have suggestion or correction about it, you can also write a comment.

English Course Book of EECC Kudus (translated)

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