You will understand that the object of an active voice sentence has become the subject of the corresponding passive voice sentence. Let us see another example:

ACTIVE: My father built our house in 1975 (“our house” being the object)

PASSIVE: Our house was built in 1975 (“our house” being the subject).

Since the Object of a verb in the active voice becomes the Subject of the passive form, only Transitive Verbs can be used in the Passive Voice, because an intransitive verb means a verb that takes no object.

Examples:

His father died in 1988. (Here the verb “died” is an intransitive verb and takes no object and there for it is wrong to say “His father was died in 1988″)

Joe has fallen from a tree. (Here the verb “has fallen” is an intransitive verb and takes no object and there for it is wrong to say “Joe has been fallen from a tree“)

Some transitive verbs too are rarely used in the passive voice. Most of these are ‘stative verbs’ (i.e. verbs which refer to states, not actions). Examples for such verbs are fit, have, lack, resemble & suit.

Examples:

They have a nice house. (BUT NOT a nice house is had by them)

My shoes don’t fit me. (BUT NOT I’m not fitted by my shoes)

Sylvia resembles a Greek goddess. (BUT NOT A Greek goddess is resembled by Sylvia.)

Your mother lacks tact. (BUT NOT Tact is lacked.)

She was having a bath. (BUT NOT A bath was being had by her.)

Some prepositional verbs are also mainly used in the active. There are no clear rules about this, and students have to learn by experience which verbs cannot be used in the passive voice.

Examples:

Everybody agreed with me. (BUT NOT I was agreed with by everybody.)

We walked into the room. (BUT NOT The room was walked into.)

There are a few transitive verbs which, even in an Active form, are sometimes used in a passive sense; as

These apples taste sour (i.e. are sour when they are tasted.)

The rose smells sweet (i.e. are sweet when it is smelt.)

The biscuits eat short and crisp (i.e. are short and crisp when they are eaten)

At least the play reads well (i.e. affects the reader well when it is read.)

Passive Voice: Transitive & Intransitive
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