In English grammar, two types of voice are identified, namely 'active voice' and 'passive voice'.


The aim of this article is to show the different types of ‘voice’ in English. In fact, two types of voice are identified in English grammar, namely 'active voice' and 'passive voice'. So, what is the difference between the two types of voice? And what are they characterized by?

Let’s look at the first type ‘active voice’.

A. Active voice:

In active voice, the actor or doer of the action is explicitly mentioned as the subject of the sentence. Consider the following examples:

1. John manufactured the car.
2. Najat writes a letter.
3. Farmers are irrigating the plants.

In (1), the noun 'John' is, semantically, the Actor or Agent of the action of manufacturing. Grammatically, the noun ‘John’ is the subject of the sentence. The noun phrase 'the car' is, semantically, the Patient or Theme that undergoes the action exerted by the actor ‘John’. Grammatically, the noun phrase 'the car' is the direct objet.
Similarly, in (2) the noun 'Najat' is, semantically, the Actor or Agent of the action of writing. Grammatically, the noun ‘Najat’ is the subject of the sentence. The noun phrase ‘a letter' is, semantically, the Patient or Theme that undergoes the action exerted by the actor ‘Najat’. Grammatically, the noun phrase ‘a letter' is the direct objet.
Likewise, in (3) the noun 'farmers' is, semantically, the Actor or Agent of the action of irrigating. Grammatically, the noun ‘farmers’ is the subject of the sentence. The noun phrase ‘the plants' is, semantically, the Patient or Theme that undergoes the action exerted by the actor ‘farmers’. Grammatically, the noun phrase ‘the plants' is the direct objet.

B. Passive voice:

In passive voice, the actor or doer of the action is no longer the subject of the sentence. The direct object becomes the subject of the sentence, as the following sentences show:


4. The car was manufactured by John.
5. A letter is written by Najat.
6. The plants are being irrigated by farmers.

As you notice, the noun phrase 'the car' moves to the subject position in the sentence. The noun ‘John’ is downgraded to the object position.
So, to form the passive voice of sentence (1), the direct object ‘the car’ becomes the subject of the sentence and the subject ‘John’ becomes the object of the preposition ‘by’. Moreover, the auxiliary verb ‘be’ is added and conjugated in the tense of the main verb.
Similarly, in (5) the direct object ‘a letter’ becomes the subject of the sentence and the subject ‘Najat’ becomes the object of the preposition ‘by’.
Likewise, in (6) the direct object ‘the plants’ becomes the subject of the sentence and the subject ‘farmers’ becomes the object of the preposition ‘by’.
It is worth noting that another subtype of passive voice is identified by grammarians as 'Impersonal Passive'. In this type of voice, the doer of the action or Agent is not explicitly mentioned. Consider the following example:

7. It is thought that capital punishment should be banned.

As you notice in (7), we do not know who thinks that capital punishment should be banned. That is why the expletive pronoun 'it' is used in the beginning of the sentence.


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ProZ.com - https://esl.proz.com/translation-articles
Voice in English
https://esl.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/4715/1/Voice-in-English
Author: Abdellatif Darraji
Marruecos
inglés al árabe translator
http://proz.com/pro/3000086 
By Abdellatif Darraji
Published on 08/7/2020
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