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Voice

Study these pairs of sentences:

1. John read the book.

The book was read by John.

2. Dixon made the pencils.

The pencils were made by Dixon.

3. Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Emancipation Proclamation was written by Lincoln.

4. The electric car made that noise.

That noise was made by the electric car.

5. Mr. Shaw built this house.

This house was built by Mr. Shaw.

It will be seen in the first of each pair of sentences, that the subject performs the action expressed by the verb, or is the actor.

In the second sentence of each pair, the subject receives the action expressed by the verb, or is the receiver of the action.

This difference in the form of the verb showing whether the subject is used as the actor or receiver of the action is called voice.

Voice is that form of the verb which shows whether the subject denotes the actor, or the receiver of the action.

1. The hunter caught a bear.

2. The carpenter built a house.

3. The horse eats the grass.

These sentences show that the subject of each verb is the actor.

The active voice is that form of the verb which shows that the subject of the verb denotes the actor.

1. A bear was caught by the hunter.

2. A house was built by the carpenter. 3.. The grass is eaten by the horse.

These sentences show that the subject of each verb is represented as acted upon, that it is the receiver of the action.

The passive voice is that form of the verb which shows that the subject of the verb is represented as acted upon, as the receiver of the action.

Since transitive verbs alone take objects, none except transitive verbs have a passive voice.

Write five pairs of sentences showing the uses of verbs both in the active and the passive voice.


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