Active and Passive Voice/Some Examples

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Some examples

1A) Consider the following active voice sentence:

I weighed the fish on weighing scales every week.

‘I’ is the subject here, because ‘I’ did the action (the weighing) described by the verb (weighed), whereas the fish is the object because it is receiving the action (being weighed). It cannot be a passive sentence because the subject is doing something to the object (weighing it).


1P) Now consider the passive voice version of the previous sentence:

The fish was weighed by me on weighing scales every week.

The fish is the subject here because it is the focus of the sentence, but you know this cannot be an active voice sentence because the subject is effectively doing nothing; the ‘me’ is the part of the sentence doing the action (the weighing).


2A) Consider the following active voice sentence:

More than 50,000 students applied to Oxford University last year.

‘More than 50,000 students’ is the sentence subject here, because these students were the ones doing the action described by the verb (the applying), whereas ‘Oxford University’ is the object because it is receiving the action described by the verb (the applications). It cannot be a passive sentence because the subjects are doing something (applying) to the object.


2P: Now, consider the passive voice version of the previous sentence:

Oxford University was applied to by more than 50,000 students last year.

‘Oxford University’ is the subject of the sentence here, but you know the sentence must be passive because the subject is effectively doing nothing; the ‘more than 50,000 students’ are the ones doing the action described by the verb (the applying).