What is Voice – Active Voice & Passive Voice ? Why is voice needed?

While communicating we use words in a sentence according to the importance ascribed to them. Or in other words  are placed in a sentence according to their importance in communication.

Usually a sentence has a subject, a verb and an object in it. A word is used as subject or object in a sentence according to the importance it carries with it.

Take the following examples to make it clear.

 1. I wrote a letter to him.

2. I wrote him a letter.

3. A letter was written to him by me.

In these sentences the three key words I, letter and him are placed at different places in the sentences  according to the importance of these words in communication. As such the two forms of voice i.e. Active and Passive voice are used accordingly  while communicating. More important words are used as Subject and those of secondary place are used as an object in a sentence. For this necessary changes are made in the sentence.



The  process of making a change from active to passive form of a sentence is called ‘change of the voice’.


Interrogative sentences starting with words like ‘Who’, ‘Whom’, ‘Which’ , ‘Why’ ,’What’ ,’Whose’ , ‘How’ ,’Whom or ‘Where’   etc.

First of all it is necessary to know about the  words ‘who’ and ”whom’.

Difference between  ‘Who’ and ‘Whom’ while making their use  in a sentence :

Subject         Possessive Pronoun          Object

I                              My                               Me

We                         our                              Us

You                      Your                             You

He                        His                               Him

She                      Her                              Her

They                   Their                           Them


Similarly in case who and whom

Who                  Whose                        Whom


So when we use a word in Subject place it is ‘who’ and using in place of object it is ‘whom’.

Following example makes it clear.

Active voice     He greeted her. He  = subject    greeted = verb   her = object

In passive object moves to the beginning of the sentence and subject to the end of the sentence.

In Passive voice   Her will change to She and will be shifted to the beginning of the  sentence. Greeted will change to was greeted. He will change to him and will be placed at the end of the sentence.

She  was greeted by him.


Now try this sentence.     Who greeted her?

To understand this sentence substitute the word ‘who’ with an assertive subject like He. He will change to ‘by him’. Similarly in this sentence  ‘who’ will change to ‘by whom’ as who is in subject place and whom is in object place. Because it is an interrogative sentence the words ‘By whom’ will remain placed in the beginning of the sentence.

By whom was she greeted ?




In examination this will help in questions relating to corrections, clause  substitution and fill in the blanks etc.

For Example

Fill in the blank with a word out of  given options :

1………………(who/whom) do  you think will be elected captain?

2………………(who/whom) will the team elect captain?

To understand these sentences, think reply of these interrogative sentences in assertive form.i.e.

  1. I think……………..(he/him)will be elected captain.
  2. The team will elect……………(he/him) captain.

In the first sentence it is quite clear that subject form is required and out of the two options ‘he’ is the subject form. Out of who and whom  ‘who’ is the word in subject place. So in interrogative sentence’who’ will be used.

  1. Who do  you think will be elected captain.   or in other way   …………..( you think) will be elected captain?  Find out whether in this sentence  a subject or an  object is required.  It is clearly evident that a  subject is required and it is ‘who’.

Similarly in the second sentence it is evident that a word at object place is required. Out of he and him ‘him’ and out of who and whom ‘whom’  are the words at object place.

2. Whom will the team elect captain?        The team will elect him captain.

So the correct word is ‘Whom’.




While changing a sentence into passive voice Who is changed to  —- by whom

For example :

Who helped you?
By whom were you helped?


Who is teaching the students?
By whom are the students being taught?


Who will bell the cat ?
By whom will the cat be belled  ?


Who has painted this picture ?
By whom has this picture been painted?


Who deceived her in love?
By whom was she deceived in love?


Who suspects him to be a thief?
By whom is he suspected to be a thief ?


Who lent you this book?
By whom were you  lent  this book ?


Who escorted her to the door?
By whom was she escorted to the door?


Who does not like lovely roses?
By whom are lovely roses not liked ?


Whom did you laugh at ?
Who was laughed at by you?


Who elects the President of India ?
By whom is the President of India elected?


Who elected him captain?
By whom was he elected captain?


Whom did the team elect captain?
Who was elected captain by the team?


Where did you find this picture?
Where was this picture found by you?


How did you obtain this book?
How was this book obtained by you?


Which book did you purchase?
Which book was purchased by you?


Which toy does the child like?
Which toy is liked by the child?


Which team won the match?
By which team was the match won?


Which doctor did treat him ?
By which doctor was he treated?


Where did you find this pen?
Where was this pen found by you?


What mistake did he commit?
What mistake was committed by him?


What action did the teacher take against him?
What action was taken against him by the teacher?


What offer did he put forth?
What offer was put forth by him?


What does she teach you ?
What are you taught by her?


What has he done?
What has been done by him?


What do you want ?
What is wanted by you?

What does this box contain?

What is contained in this box?


When did you paint this picture?
When was this picture painted by you?


How did he treat you?
How were you treated by him?


How did you solve this sum?
How was this sum solved by you?


 Whom did the election results shock the most?
Who were shocked the most at the election results?

Why did you abuse her ?
Why was she abused by you?





Sentences for practice


Fill in the blanks in the following sentences with a word out of ……who, whom, which and what.

  1. ……………, do you consider, is right ?
  2. …………….. am I speaking to, please ?
  3. ………………do you want to see ?
  4. ………………. were you talking with ?
  5. ……………..of you has broken the chair?
  6. ……………..did you see in the garden ?
  7. ……………prompted you to say these words?
  8. The lady……….teaches me English lives here.
  9. Those …… hard are sure to succeed.
  10. ……………wants to see me?



  1.  It was he………..rescued the drowning child.
  2. I ………am your friend will always help you.
  3. He………..I  respect so much is my mentor.
  4. Those ……..join our group need not to be afraid of anyone.
  5. She is the person………….is to blame.

Change the voice


  1. How many countries have you visited so far?
  2. Who invented the telescope?
  3. Why is he having a keen interest in her affairs?
  4. When will the farmers harvest their crops?
  5. Where did you find your lost books.
  6. What surprises me is her strange  behaviour ?



  1. Whom do you  like the most?
  2. Who will take care of their old parents?
  3. Who is cooking food in the kitchen?
  4. How does the mother look after her children?
  5. Where did the child hide his toys?
  6. When will you host a party for us ?
  7. Who knocked at the door?
  8. Why is the peon not ringing the bell?
  9. How many employees did you hire for this job?
  10. When will she finish her work?

More Examples
Change the voice.
1. Whom do you want to help you?**
     By whom do you want to be helped?
2.  Why did you make a row with his brother for nothing ?
Why was a row made with his brother for nothing by you?
3.  Why did  you not turn down his proposal when he offered it to you?
     Why was his proposal not turned down by you when it was offered to you by him?
4.  How did you overcome  so many hurdles so easily?
How were so many hurdles overcome so easily by you?
5.  How will  he manage the affairs of the company alone ?
     How will the affairs of the company be managed by him alone ?       
 6.  Who shouted at the stranger while he was walking in the street ?
By whom was the stranger shouted at while he was  walking in the street?



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