Rewrite the following sentences, changing them from passive to active voice.
10 000 tons of crude oil was spilt into Bass Strait by a German tanker.
An innovative and effective restructure was implemented by the new owner.
Our shirts and skirts were neatly ironed by our industrious house-keeper.
(Could you please explain how this is done, thanks :)
In English grammar, voice indicates the relationship between a verb and its subject.
- When a verb is in the active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action that is expressed by the verb that acts as the predicate of the sentence.
- On the other hand, when a verb is in the passive voice, the subject does not perform the action; instead it is acted upon and is the receiver of the action.
Here is a sentence that is in both active and passive voice:
ACTIVE VOICE: The tallest basketball player on the team has made a three-point field goal.
PASSIVE VOICE: The three-point shot has been made by the tallest basketball player on the team.
- Often a sentence in passive voice has the prepositional phrase beginning with the preposition by + the noun or pronoun that is the receiver of the action.
- When a verb is in passive voice, it is formed with the verb to be as an auxiliary verb along with the past participle of the main verb. For example, in the above sentence about the basketball player that is in passive voice, the present perfect tense of to be = has been is used. Then the past participle of make, which is made, is added. (As a tip, remember that some form of to be must be used; the passive sentence, then, always has a verb phrase as the predicate--never just one verb.)
Now, to fix the sentences under question, changing them from passive to active voice-- regarding the first sentence:
- Find the noun that is the receiver of the action. In the first sentence, the noun that is the receiver is German tank (notice the phrase "by a German tanker" which here indicates the passive voice ).
- "German tanker" now becomes the subject of the sentence.
- Locate the predicate. The verb phrase was spilt [to be +past participle] is in the passive form. It must be changed to active voice by changing the main verb, spilt, to the simple past tense by eliminating the auxiliary verb was.
- The sentence has its order, thus, reversed as the receiver of the action now begins the sentence.
So, here is the sentence rewritten in active voice:
- A German tanker spilt (spilled) 10,000 tons of crude oil into the Bass Strait.
For the second sentence, the same procedure is used.
- by our industrious housekeeper places the noun housekeeper as the receiver of the action;
- housekeeper will be used as the subject of the sentence in active voice.
- Locate the predicate: "were ironed" [neatly is an adverb]. Remove the auxiliary verb were and use the past form of iron--ironed. [ironed in the passive voice sentence is actually the past participle]
- The sentence is more or less "flipped around" as the receiver of the action, housekeeper, becomes the subject.
Here, now is the active voice version of the second sentence:
- Our industrious housekeeper neatly ironed our shirts and skirts.