Chapter overview


Active and passive sentences

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Active and passive sentences

​​In a nutshell

Understanding active and passive voice allows you to write more varied sentences. In this summary, you will learn how to use the active and passive voice and how to turn an active sentence into a passive one.


The active voice

Active voice is just another way of saying that a sentence is in the normal word order.

  • Start with the subject (doer of the verb).
  • Write the verb (the action).
  • And, after the verb, there might be an object (thing/person the verb is done to). 


The boy brushes the dog. 

The passive voice

In a passive sentence, the object comes first. This might be for a range of reasons, like for emphasis or if you don't want to say or simply don't know, who the doer (subject) of the verb is!

To understand how to change this word order, follow these simple steps:

(1) Start by labelling the subject (S), verb (V) and object (O) of the sentence.

The boy
the dog.

(2) Since it's passive, put the object first. Swap the order of the subject and object.

English; Sentences; KS2 Year 5; Active and passive sentences
The dog

the boy.

(3) All that is left now is the verb. However, you cannot just write the verb in the same form - look what sentence this creates!

The dog brushes the boy.

Now the meaning of the sentence has changed – oops! Remember, you still want to say that the dog is receiving the brushing. You need to change the verb 'brushes' to the passive voice to keep this meaning.

To change a verb into the passive voice you need:

the verb to be (in the correct tense)
+ the past participle

(4) One last step! Now that the subject is at the end of the sentence, you need the magic word "by" to show who is responsible.

The dog is brushed by the boy. 

Tip: If you'd like, you can even leave out the subject altogether. This can be useful if you don't know who/what the subject is.


The dog is brushed.

Want to find out more? Check out these other lessons!

Subject and object

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


  • Question: How to form the passive?

    Answer: Take the verb "TO BE" in the tense you need, plus the past participle.

  • Question: What is the passive voice?

    Answer: In a passive sentence, the object comes first. This might be for a range of reasons, like for emphasis or if you don't want to say or simply don't know, who the doer (subject) of the verb is!

  • Question: What is the active voice?

    Answer: The active voice is when a sentence is in the normal word order, where you start with the subject, next you write the verb, and then you might have an object.



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