Active voice

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This article is about a grammatical voice. For the Seattle skyscraper, see Active Voice Building. For active and passive in English, see English passive voice.

Active voice is a grammatical voice common in many of the world's languages. It is the unmarked voice for clauses featuring a transitive verb in nominative–accusative languages, including English and most other Indo-European languages.

Active voice is used in a clause whose subject expresses the main verb's agent. That is, the subject does the verb's designated action.[1] A clause whose agent is marked as grammatical subject is called an active clause. In contrast, a clause in which the subject has the role of patient or theme is named a passive clause, and its verb is expressed in passive voice. Many languages have both an active and a passive voice; this allows for greater flexibility in sentence construction, as either the semantic agent or patient may take the subject syntactic role.[2]

Examples[edit]

In the following examples the active and passive voice are illustrated with pairs of sentences using the same transitive verb.

Language Active voice Passive voice
English The dog bit the postal carrier. The postal carrier was bitten by the dog.
Arabic عَضّ الكلبُ ساعي البريد. (The dog bit the postal carrier.)
'eَd alklbu sa'ey albryd
عُضّ ساعي البريد بواسطة الكلب. (The postal carrier was bitten by the dog.)
'eud sa'ey albryd bwasth alklb
Finnish Koira puri postimiestä. (The dog bit the postal carrier.) Postimiestä puri koira. (The postal carrier was bitten by the dog.)
French Le chien a mordu le facteur. (The dog bit the postal carrier.) Le facteur a été mordu par le chien. (The postal carrier was bitten by the dog.)
German Der Hund biss den Postboten. (The dog bit the postal carrier.) Der Postbote wurde vom Hund gebissen. (The postal carrier was bitten by the dog.)
Korean 개가 우편집배원을 물었다. (A dog bit the postal carrier.)
gaega upyeonjibbaewon-eul mul-eossda
우편집배원은 개에게 물렸다. (The postal carrier was bitten by a dog.)
upyeonjibbaewon-eun gaeege mullyeossda
Japanese 犬がかんだ。 (A dog bit [someone].)
Inu-ga kanda
犬にかまれた。 (By a dog [someone] was bitten.)
Inu-ni kamareta
Polish Pies ugryzł listonosza. (The dog bit the postal carrier.) Listonosz został ugryziony przez psa. (The postal carrier was bitten by the dog.)
Spanish El perro mordió al cartero. (The dog bit the postal carrier.) El cartero fue mordido por el perro. (The postal carrier was bitten by the dog.)
Swedish Tjänaren bär vinet. (The servant carries the wine.) Vinet bärs av tjänaren. (The wine is carried by the servant.)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ O'Grady, William, John Archibald, Mark Aronoff, and Janie Rees-Miller (eds.) (2001). Contemporary Linguistics: An Introduction Fourth edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's. ISBN 0-312-24738-9
  2. ^ Saeed, John (1997). Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-20035-5