Learn Grammar- Active and Passive Voice




The Difference Between Active And Passive Voice Tenses:



The primary difference between an active and a passive tense is essentially the focus on either subject or object e.g.

(a) He writes a letter. (The focus is on the performer of activity i.e. He, a subject).

(b) A letter is written by him. (The focus is on object i.e. letter, an object).


A question pops up why we need to have passive voice when the same matter could be conveyed via an active sentence. For example the two sentences in above examples are apparently conveying the same meaning; however, if we remove the word letter, an object, in 1st sentence it would read:

a. He writes.

It shifts our focus onto the subject as well as it comes into our knowledge that here is possibility to form an active sentence without the usage of an object. Similarly, If we remove the words by him in second sentence, it would read:

b. A letter is written.


It shows the fact that object and its work is more important to the speaker than subject, therefore, he omits it. Hence, we write passive tenses when we wish to highlight or are primarily concerned with an object. And we write active tenses to show our concern with a subject. Let us further elaborate the usage scenarios and the importance of conversing into either passive or active voice.

Active and Passive Scenario 1:



You boss walks into your office and asks about Mr. James, a clerk in your office. You are the one at reception and you need to tell what Mr. James is doing. You can reply with two options:

(1) He is working on computer.

(2) He is working.

Both the sentences are correct but mentioning of the word computer, an object, is not mandatory because the boss might only be concerned whether he is working or free.

Active and Passive Scenario 2:



A principle asks the clerk about a teacher. Now the clerk may reply in two ways:

(1) He is teaching the class.

(2) He is teaching.

The principle is only concerned with the teacher's current status either available or not. Therefore, at this stage mentioning the word class is none but waste of words. Therefore, it would be advisable not to use objects in active tenses where it can be avoided.








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