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Active voice and passive voice: what are they, examples of verbs and sentences

Voice is a grammatical category that establishes the relationship between the verb and its participants (the subject and the object).

The active voice it is the one in which the subject performs the verbal action (agent subject) and the object (if there is one) receives it. For example:

sofia he prepared the chestnuts

The subject (Sofia) performs the action and the object (the chestnuts) receives it.

The passive voice it is the one in which the subject receives the action (patient subject) and the object performs it (agent complement). For example:

The chestnuts were prepared by Sofia

The patient subject (the chestnuts) receive action performed by the complement agent (Sofia).

Active voice and passive voice are the most common, but there is a third class called reflexive or reflexive passive.

The passive reflects it is the one in which the subject, at the same time, executes and receives the action. For example:

The chestnuts they prepare fast

active voice

The active voice is that which is used to express ideas where the subject act as agent, carries out the action of the verb. For example:

The players displayed the trophy.

The subject (the players) performed the action (exhibited) on the object (the trophy).

Sometimes the verb does not express an action itself, but the subject experiences what the verb dictates. For example:

The players rested the next day.

The subject (the players) do not perform an action as such, but they did take part in the action of the verb (they rested).

All verbs, whether transitive, intransitive, copulative or predicative, have active voice. The subject fulfills the role of agent, performing, suffering, or participating in the verbal action. For example:

  • Peter buys bread
  • The cow mooing
  • The child is distracted
  • My sister listens to music

Examples of active sentences

  1. Álvaro plays chess every Tuesday.
  2. My dog ​​catches the ball on the fly.
  3. I have read all the books.
  4. The band will release an album this summer.
  5. My friend makes aluminum jewelry.
  6. The newspaper published the chronicle of the concert.
  7. Your parents look happy.
  8. This year we will go to Yucatan.
  9. The mayor handed over the key to the city.
  10. The gardener pruned the rose bushes.

passive voice

The passive voice is that which establishes that the subject (patient subject) receives the action of the verb and which is the object (supplement agent) who performs it. In other words, the subject is affected by what the complement does.

The novel was written by the author.

The patient subject (the novel) receives the action (was drafted) of the agent complement (by the author).

only they have passive voice transitive verbsthat is to say, those verbs that need a direct complement to complete their meaning.

For example, the verb to approve must always carry a complement (what is approved) to make sense:

The rule was approved by the assembly.

The rule (patient subject) receives the action (was approved) that the agent complement (the assembly) does.

They are used to express the passive voice verbal paraphrasesformed by means of the conjugated form of the verb to be (auxiliary verb) and the participle of the main (transitive) verb in question. For example:

  • Michael Angel he painted the Sistine Chapel.
  • The Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo.

Do not confuse sentences in the passive voice with certain copulative sentences, formed with the verb éser and a functioning participle of attribute, for example:

  • The pants are tight (copulative sentence)
  • The budgets will be adjusted by the shareholders (passive sentence)

The way to identify a passive sentence is to make it active by conjugating the main verb, without losing its meaning. For example:

  • Passive: The actress was protected by the escort.
  • Active: The escort protected the actress

When we try to make active a sentence that is not passive but copulative, the statement does not make complete sense. For example:

The pants are tight / The pants are tight (the sentence makes no sense).

Examples of passive sentences

  1. The meeting was called by the neighbors.
  2. This film will be awarded by the Academy of Cinema.
  3. My city is considered safe by tourists.
  4. The thief was convicted by the court.
  5. The guitar was repaired by the luthier.
  6. Absences will be sanctioned by the teachers.
  7. The palace is protected by the royal guard.
  8. The building was designed by the architect.
  9. The trophy will be presented by the current champion.
  10. The conversation was recorded by an employee.

Passive reflects

The passive voice reflects the old middle voice of some languages ​​such as Greek. In it the subject executes the action and at the same time is affected by it, at the same time plays the role of agent and patient.

It is built using the pronoun is and the conjugated form of a transitive verb, which must agree in number and person with the patient subject. The passive reflex does not usually take an agent complement.

  • The sample will be analyzed. (Passive)
  • Sample is will analyze. (Passive reflects)

The subject in a passive reflexive sentence can appear after the verb. To differentiate the subject from the object we will pay attention to concordance, since the subject and the verb agree in person and number. For example:

  • They are sold second-hand items (second-hand items are sold).
  • It is required experience (experience is required).

Sometimes the particle is it can appear enclitic, that is, at the end of the verb, which is usually in the infinitive. For example:

These facts must not be forgottenis.

Examples of reflected passive sentences

  1. At Christmas they eat sweets and nougat.
  2. The cards are opened by the flap.
  3. Joan’s case will be judged soon.
  4. Promises must be kept.
  5. Clothing arrangements are made.
  6. Pencils are made of wood.
  7. Puppies are adopted daily.
  8. Nearby houses caught fire.
  9. The rules must be respected.
  10. Soon all the mysteries will be solved.

See also:


  • Espanyola, RA (2009). New grammar of the Spanish language. Madrid: Espada.
  • Blanca, L. (2007). The passive voice in Spanish: grammatical diatribe. Writings Journal of the Center for Language Sciences, 35-36.
  • Fernández, SS (2002). The passive voice in Spanish: towards a discursive analysis. In Romansk Forum (Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 75-85).
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