Active and Passive Voice for IELTS

What is active and passive voice?

This beautiful girl on your right is Rashmi. Let me use her name to enlighten the concept of active and passive voice in IELTS. There are two different sentences about her divided under active and passive voice. Notice the bold letters, they are the sentence focus.

ielts active and pssive voice example
Rashmi smiling for the photoshoot…
Active Voice Passive Voice
We elected Rashmi for the position.
Who elected Rashmi?
Answer: We.
Rasmi was elected for receptionist.
Who elected Rashmi?
Answer: Not mentioned

Active voice is about emphasizing the person/ subject (we) whereas passive is about the action(was elected).

The person who performs an action in a passive sentence is called the agent, introduced by by. The agent may or may not be mentioned.

Writing in the active voice is clearer and more direct. It helps you to convey your meaning more easily. If you use the passive voice, however, your sentences may become too wordy. Wordy sentences often lack focus, causing your readers to have a tough time identifying your point.

However, a way that the passive is specifically needed for IELTS is if you getprocess diagram in Academic IELTS Task 1.

When we describe a process such as this, we are not interested in who does the activity, the “doer”, we are interested in the activity itself.


How to change into passive?

Do this to change active into passive:-

  1. Move the object of the sentence and make it a new subject, 2. use the tense rule given below in the table

Government built the building(Object).

The building was built by government.

The passive can be used with all tenses. The table below gives examples of the most common forms in the passive:

tense verb form    example
present simple am   are is past participle Finally, the product is delivered to local supermarkets
present continuous am   are is + being + past participle That cathedral is being repaired as we speak. 
past simple was   were past participle A significant increase in sales was witnessed between the years 2000 and 2010.
past continuous was   were + being + past participle We didn’t know, but we were being monitored that day.
present perfect simple have   has + been + past participle haven’t been asked to participate in the project.
past perfect simple had + been + past participle An important lesson had been taught
modal simple can   will might could may must + be + past participle Trophy hunting may be allowed in some countries, but that doesn’t mean that it’s OK.
modal perfect simple could   must + have been The project could have been cancelled had it not been for him.

When to change active into passive?

It is much more common to use the active than the passive, so you should only use it if there is a specific reason. Below are are the reasons that we use it.

Remember that this is usually a matter of choice for you, depending on the context in which you are writing.

1. When action is more important than the agent

Agent centric Action Centric
The farmer harvested the corn in September The corn was harvested in September

2. When agent does not need to be mentioned

With agent without agent
The police arrested the burglar The burglar was arrested

3. When you are writing conclusion for certain genres, such as science reports or for academic journals

Referring to the agent Hiding the agent
I can draw several conclusions from the results Several conclusions can be drawn from the results


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