Grammar in IELTS-Active and Passive Voice Rules

Grammar has always been a struggle for some of the students who are pursuing any competitive exam of English. However, ¼ of marks are allotted for Grammatical range and accuracy in IELTS (International English language testing system) too. So here we are with another topic of English grammar that is Active and Passive voice.

In this article, you are going to learn:

  • What is active and passive speech.
  • Rules for conversion with examples.
  • Some important exercises for competitive exams.
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1. Voice

Voice is basically a form of verb which is used to describe that whether a verb is active or passive.

Active- It is when the actions and situations are represented from the perspective of a person or an object. A verb is said to be active when the subject of the action does an action.

For example:- The postman delivers the letters.

Passive- It is when often the actions and situations are affected by a person or an object. A verb is said to be passive when the subject of the action is the receiver of an action.

For example:- The letters are delivered by the postman.

Here in both examples, the postman is a subject and in active voice, he does an action but in passive voice, he is responsible for an action.

How to differentiate between active and passive voice?

Remember that if who or what of being active is at the beginning of the sentence, ut is active voice and if the doers of action are at the end of the sentence, it will be a sentence of a passive voice.

For example- John is playing the guitar (active, as playing the guitar is an action and who is doing it? John, of course. So John is at the beginning of the sentence)

Passive- The guitar is being played by John. (Now the subject of the action is at the end of the sentence so, it is a sentence of passive voice).

2. Rules for conversion

There is a set of rules for proper conversion of sentences from active voice to passive voice and for this, students must be aware of the tenses in English grammar.

Type of tense

Sentence in Active voice

Sentence in passive voice

Simple present tense

Rule- subject + V1+ s/es + an object

Martha cooks rice.

Subject + is/am/are + V3 + by + an object.

Rice are cooked by Martha.

Present continuous tense

Rule- subject +is/am/are + v1 + ing + an object

Martha is cooking the rice.

Subject + is /am/ are + being + v3 + by+ an object.

The rice are being cooked by Martha

Present perfect tense

Rule- subject + has/have + v3+ an object

Martha has cooked the rice.

Subject + has/have+ been + v3 + by + an object.

The rice have been cooked by Martha.

Simple past tense

Rule- subject + v2 + an object

Savvy played guitar.

Subject+ was/were+ v3+ by + an object

The guitar was played by Savvy.

Past continuous tense.

Rule- subject+ was/were+ v1+ ing + an object

Savvy was playing the guitar.

Subject+ was/were+ being+ v3 +by+ an object.

The guitar was being played by Savvy.

Past perfect tense

Rule- subject + had+ v3 + an object

Savvy had played guitar.

Subject+ had+ been + v3 + by+ an object.

The guitar had been played by Savvy.

Simple future tense

Rule- subject+ will/shall + v1 + an object.

We will give you a present.

Subject + will/shall+ be +v3 + by+ an object.

A present will be given to you by us.

Future perfect tense

Rule- subject + will/shall+ have+ v3+ an object.

The doctor will have examined 10 patients.

Subject+ will /shall +have been+ v3+ an object

Ten patients will have been examined by the doctor.




  • The places of subject and object are interchanged.
  • In passive sentences, the third form of the verb is used always.
  • Pronouns of the active sentence should be changed accordingly in a passive sentence. For example:- I – me, We- us, They- them, He- him, she- her.
  • It is not compulsory to use ‘by' in a passive sentences always, the words ‘with', ‘to' etc. Can also be used. For example:- The water fills the tub. (The tub is filled with water.)
  • I know him. (He is known to me.)
  • The tenses which cannot be changed are :- 1. Present perfect continuous tense. 2. Past perfect continuous tense 3. Future perfect continuous tense 4. Future continuous tense.

3. Important Exercises

Convert the following sentences from Active to Passive

1. The doctor had examined him.

2. She does not like tea.

3. Mr. Anand teaches us science.

4. I heard Mukesh once.

5. He hates bad people.

6. They are building a house next door to our school.

7. One should keep one’s promise.

8. Why do you waste time?

9. Who is creating this mess?

10. You must look into this matter.

11. The Romans expected to conquer Carthage.


1. He had been examined by the doctor.

2. Tea is not liked by her.

3. Science is taught to us by Mr. Anand.

4. Mukesh was heard by me once.

5. Bad people are hated by him.

6. A house is being built by them next door to our school.

7. A promise should be kept.

8. Why is time wasted by you?

9. By whom this mess is being created?

10. This matter should be looked into by you.

11. It was expected by the Romans that they would conquer Carthage.

Convert the following sentences from Passive to Active

1. I was promised a present by my uncle.

2. He is known to me.

3. A bulldog was given to her.

4. By whom was she taught such things?

5. I was kept awake by the noise of the traffic.

6. The clown was being laughed at by them.

7. I was struck on the head by a stone.

8. It is the time for the bell to be rung.

9. This work will have been finished by tomorrow.

10. Police arrested him on a charge of theft, but lack of evidence released


1. My uncle promised me a present.

2. I know him.

3. Someone gave her a bulldog.

4. Who taught her such things?

5. The noise of the traffic kept me awake.

6. They were laughing at the clown.

7. A stone struck me on the head.

8. It is time to ring the bell.

9. You will have finished this work by tomorrow.

10. He was arrested on a charge of theft, but for lack of evidence, he was released.

Take care of grammar in the IELTS exam and do practice for it fully.

Wrapping It Up...

The rules of voice in English grammar are somewhat complicated and these are interconnected with the knowledge of tenses too. However, with the regular practice of it, you will be well versed with these rules. The aforementioned rules are written and depicted in the easiest and understandable way so that students can get more out of them. Always remember, the IELTS test demands correct but not complicated sentences. So, be particular with what you are writing and not what is complex. Stay in touch for more topics of grammar like this. Hoping that today’s article will remain informative for my students.
Best of luck!

Dr. Roma
Content Writer