Active, Passive, Tenses and Modal auxiliaries

  1. Active Voice

Active voice is used to indicate the grammatical subject of the verb is performing the action or causing the happening denoted by the verb. With the active voice, you learn ‘who’ or ‘what’ is responsible for the action at the beginning of the sentence. In other words, the subject performs the action denoted by the verb. With help of active voice more powerful sentences can be build than passive voice.

Use of active voice:

  1. Active voice is used in a clause whose subject expresses the agent of the main verb.
  2. Subject can be easily identified by asking ‘who’ or ‘what’ to the verb.
  3. Sentences are short and easily understandable.

2.   Passive Voice

In Passive voice the sentence focus on object i.e. who/what is receiving the action and not on who/what is performing the action. In passive voice, the actor of the of the verb (action) is either understood at the end of the sentence or maybe not told. The passive voice is used in writing facts, truth, lab or technical reports in which the actor is not important or unknown, but the action happening on the object is very important.

Passive voice is used when the focus is on the action. It is not important or not known, however, who or what is performing the action.

Use of passive voice:

  1. It is used if it doesn‘t need to know or we don‘t know the actor performing the job.
    2. In the end of the clause or sentence “by” is prefixed to know the actor performing the job.
    3. It is used if we are more interested in the job than the actors who work.

Form of Passive

Subject + finite form of to be + Past Participle (3rd column of irregular verbs)

Example: A letter was written.

When rewriting active sentences in passive voice, note the following:

  • the object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence
  • the finite form of the verb is changed (to be + past participle)
  • the subject of the active sentence becomes the object of the passive sentence (or is dropped)


This house was built in 1895.

This is a passive sentence. Compare:

Somebody built this house in 1895. (active)

This house was built in 1895. (passive)

We often prefer the passive when it is not so important who or what did the action. In this example, it is not so important who built the house.





These are the passive forms of the present tenses, past tenses and modal aux..:


The simple present expresses an action in the present taking place once, never or several times. It is also used for actions that take place one after another and for actions that are set by a timetable or schedule. The simple present also expresses facts in the present.

Present simple                  Am/is/are + done/cleaned etc.

Active:                         Somebody cleans this room everyday.

Passive:                       This room is cleaned everyday.

Many accidents are caused by dangerous driving.

I’m not often invited to parties.

How many people are injured in road accidents everyday?


 The simple past expresses an action in the past taking place once, never, several times. It can also be used for actions taking place one after another or in the middle of another action.

 Past simple                              was/were + done/cleaned etc.

Active:                         Somebody cleaned this room yesterday.

Passive:                       This room was cleaned yesterday.

During the night we were all woken up by a loud explosion

When was that castle built?

The house wasn’t damage in the storm but a tree was blown down.


 Present progressive is also known as present continuous.

The present progressive puts emphasis on the course or duration of an action.

The present progressive is used for actions going on in the moment of speaking and for actions taking place only for a short period of time. It is also used to express development and actions that are arranged for the near future.

Present continous                    am/is/are being + done/cleaned etc.

Active:                         Somebody is cleaning the room at the moment.

Passive:                       The room is being cleaned at the moment.

Look at those old houses! They are being knocked down.

(shop assistant to costumer) Are you being served, madam?


 The past progressive puts emphasis on the course of an action in the past.

Past continous                         was/were being + done/cleaned etc.

Active:                         Somebody was cleaning the room when I arrived.

Passive:                       The room was being cleaned when I arrived.

Suddenly I heard footsteps behind me. We were being followed.


The present perfect simple expresses an action that is still going on or that stopped recently, but has an influence on the present. It puts emphasis on the result.

Present perfect                                    have/has been + done/cleaned etc.

Active:                         The room looks nice. Somebody has cleaned it

Passive:                       The room looks nice. It has been cleaned.

Have you heard the new? The president has been shot.

Have you ever been bitten by a dog?

I’m not going to the party. I haven’t been invited.


The past perfect simple expresses an action taking place before a certain time in the past.

Past perfect                             had been + done/cleaned etc.

Active:                         The room looked much better. Somebody had cleaned it .

Passive:                       The room looked much better. It had been cleaned.

Jim didn’t know about the change of plans. He hadn’t been told.

  • Modal Auxiliary

Rumus Passive Voice (Kalimat Pasif) Menggunakan Modal Auxiliaries

Jika pada suatu kalimat terdapat Modal Auxiliaries, maka rumus bentuk pasifnya adalah:

Pada kalimat positif MODAL + be + VERB 3
Pada kalimat negatif MODAL + NOT + be + VERB 3
Pada bentuk lampau kalimat pasif MODAL + have been + VERB 3

Contoh Passive Voice (Kalimat Pasif) Dengan Menggunakan Modal Auxiliaries

Modal Auxiliaries and Similar Expression  

Contoh Passive Voice (Kalimat Pasif)



Can – Could


The door can be opened.

(Artinya: Pintunya dapat dibuka.)

The window can’t be opened.

(Artinya: Jendelanya tidak dapat dibuka.)

This problem could not be fixed by us.

(Artinya: Masalah ini tidak dapat diselesaikan oleh kita.)

be able to


Shania is able to be hired for Chemical Staff Department.

(Artinya: Shania dapat dipekerjakan untuk bagian staf bahan kimia.)



Will – Would


Tom will be invited to the party by Kim.

(Artinya: Tom akan diundang ke pesta oleh Kim.)

Mr. Lee told me that the schedule would not be canceled.

(Artinya: Tuan Lee mengatakan kepada saya bahwa jadwalnya tidak akan dibatalkan.)


May – Might

(boleh/ mungkin)

The Cooking club may be joined by everyone.

(Artinya: Klub memasak boleh diikuti oleh semua orang.)

The machine might not be operated now.

(Artinya: Mesin ini tidak boleh dioperasikan sekarang.)



Must – Have to

(harus/ pasti)

My homework must be finished as soon as possible.

(Artinya: Pekerjaan rumah saya harus diselesaikan secepat mungkin.)

This company has to be established before June.

(Artinya: Perusahaan ini harus didirikan sebelum bulan Juni.)


Should – Ought to


That book should not be stolen by him.

(Artinya: Buku itu tidak seharusnya dicuri oleh dia.)

This Letter ought to be sent last week.

(Artinya: Surat ini seharusnya dikirim minggu lalu.)

be supposed to


Fred is supposed to be told about the meeting.

(Artinya: Fred seharusnya diberitahu tentang pertemuan atau rapat.)

be going to


He is going to be fired from his position as soon as possible.

(Artinya: Dia akan diberhentikan dari jabatannya secepatnya.)

Contoh The Past Passive Voice (Bentuk Lampau Kalimat Pasif) Dengan Menggunakan Modal Auxiliaries

Modal Auxiliaries The Past – Passive Form (Bentuk Lampau Kalimat Pasif)
Should The letter should have been sent last week.

(Artinya: Suratnya seharusnya sudah dikirim minggu lalu.)



This house must have been built over 200 years ago.

(Artinya: Rumah ini pasti sudah dibangun lebih dari 200 tahun yang lalu.)

Ought to Jack ought to have been invited to the party.

(Artinya: Jack seharusnya sudah diundang ke pesta.)


  1. English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy

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