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Active and Passive Voice, Interrogations or Questions Tags | In Celebration of Being Alive | Prose | By Dr. Christiaan Barnard - Grammar | 12th English : UNIT 3 : Prose : In Celebration of Being Alive

Chapter: 12th English : UNIT 3 : Prose : In Celebration of Being Alive


Active and Passive Voice, Interrogations or Questions, framing tag questions (English Book back answers and solution for Exercise grammar questions)


Active and Passive Voice

You have already learnt the use of Active and Passive Voice in your earlier classes. Let’s quickly recall some of the important rules now.

  The object of the Active Verb is made the Subject of the Passive Verb.

  The Subject of the Active Verb is made the object of some Preposition (generally ‘by’).

  The Verb of the Active Voice must have the Past Participle form of the Finite Verb.

  The tense of the Verb does not change.

  Only Transitive verbs can be changed into Passive Voice.

  When the verbs expressing command, order, advice or request are changed into Passive Voice, ‘Let’ is placed at the beginning of the subject. Also place ‘Passive Infinitive’ without ‘to’ after ‘be’. The form of the Passive Voice will be – Let + Subject + be +Verb in third form. Subject is placed between ‘Let’ and ‘be’ + verb in third form.

  While changing Present Infinitive into Passive Voice, put ‘to + be + verb in third form’ (Past Participle in place of infinitive form) e.g. A letter has to be posted by me.

  Some vague and indefinite subjects like ‘everyone’, ‘they’, ‘people’, ‘someone’, ‘somebody,’ everybody’, ‘anybody’, etc., are dropped when the sentence is changed into Passive Voice. e.g : Prizes were distributed at the end of the function.

  The use of ‘by’ is considered superfluous when the special interest of the speaker is not in the active subject but in the predicate . For example – ‘People speak French in many parts of the world’.

  ‘They say’ can be changed into ‘It is said’.


Sentences with the following four tenses of verbs cannot be transformed into Passive Voice.

  Present Perfect Continuous

E.g. Anita has been playing squash since childhood.

  Past Perfect Continuous

E.g. My family had been running textile business for years.

 Future Continuous

E.g. Students will be giving dance performance tomorrow.

  Future Perfect Continuous

E.g. They will have been discussing the sensitive issues for five days.


Task 1

Change the following sentences into Passive Voice.

a.  The Governor inaugurated the exhibition at ten o’ clock.

The exhibition was inaugurated by the Governor at ten o ’ clock.

b.  The crowd expected their leader to arrive early in the morning.

The leader of the crowd was expected to arrive early in the morning.

c.  Who taught her Computer Science?

By whom was computer science taught to her?

d.  They unanimously named Ravi the captain of team.

Ravi was unanimously named the captain of team by them.

e.  The President gave the commander an award.

An award was given by the President to the commander.

f.  Do not tell a lie.

You are advised not to tell a lie.

g.  Please open the door.

You are requested to open the door

h.  It is time to stop the work.

Let the work to be stopped.

i.  They say he is a spy.

It is said by them that he is a spy.

j.  One should keep one’s promise.

One’s promise should be kept by one.

k.  People burn a great deal of wood in winter.

A great deal of wood is burnt in winter by people.

l.  Where had you kept the book?

Where had the book been kept by you?

m.  When did you feel the tremors?

When were the tremors felt by you?

n.  How did you do the experiment?

How was the experiment done by you?

o.  Whose car did someone park in front of your gate?

Whose car was parked in front of your gate?


Task 2

Change the following sentences into Active Voice.

a)  The smuggler has been nabbed by the police.

The police has nabbed the smuggler.

b)  By whom were you interviewed?

Who interviewed you?

c)  Why were you scolded by your parents?

Why did your parents scold you?

d)  Not a word was spoken by the convict in self–defence.

The convict did not speak a word in self-defence

e)  Good news is expected shortly.

We expect good news shortly,

f)  The mail has just been received.

He/She has just received the mail.

g)  Sundari has been taken to hospital by her husband.

Sundari’s husband has taken her to hospital.

h)  Our television is being repaired now.

I am reparing our television now./ The mechanic is reparing our television now.

i)  Sweets have not been distributed to children by the organisers.

The organisers have not distributed sweets to children

j)  Prizes were being given by the chief guest.

The chief guest was giving prizes

k)  Nobody has been seen in the library this week.

We have not seen anyone in the library this week.

l)  Nobody would have known the truth if you had not disclosed it.

m)  You are advised to help the poor and needy.

Help the poor and needy.

n)  You are requested to make a cup of tea for the guest.

Please make a cup of tea for the guest.


Interrogations or Questions

There are different ways of asking questions. Let’s take a look at the different types of questions and deal with Tag Questions in detail:

1.  ‘Yes’ or ‘no’ Questions or Polar Questions

These questions expect or elicit a response of either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. ‘Yes-no’ questions begin with ‘be verbs’, ‘do verbs’ and ‘have verbs’ or with modal verbs. They can be framed in both positive and negative forms.

Generally, people tend to make mistakes in answering ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to a negative question. For instance,

“Did you not attend the function last week?”

“Yes, I did not.” (wrong response)

“No, I did not.”(right response)

Here, two negatives do not neutralise each other, but only emphasize the point or the message if the person has attended the function, the answer will be: “Yes, I did.”

2.  ‘Wh’ Questions or Information Questions

These questions are framed to seek some sort of information. They begin with ‘What, When, Where, Who, Why, Which, Whom, Whose and How. For e.g. What are your plans for this weekend? / Whom do you want me to meet there? / How long should I wait for you? / When will you be able to complete this work? / Why does your father travel to UK quite often?

3. Alternative Questions

These questions offer the listener a closed choice of two or more possible answers, presuming that only one is true. They are framed with the word ‘or’. For e.g. Shall I meet him today or tomorrow? / Would you like to have tea, coffee or juice? Are you going to spend your vacation in Ooty or Kodaikanal? / Did you buy a sedan or a hatchback?

4. Tag Questions

A tag question is a short question form added at the end of a declarative or an imperative sentence. It is generally used to draw the attention of the listener to the sentence and to seek confirmation. Sometimes they are used to encourage a reply from the person who is spoken to. Tag questions are commonly used in conversations and not usually in formal English.


Points to remember while framing tag questions

  The question tag always begins with an auxiliary verb or a modal verb. Question tags are formed with the same auxiliary or modal verb found in the main part of the sentence.

  The subject of the question tag is a personal pronoun (except ‘there’), which is a substitute for the subject of the statement.

  The pronoun should agree with the number, gender and person of the subject of the statement.

  The negative adverb ‘not’ is always used in contracted form.

[isn’t, wasn’t, aren’t, weren’t, hasn’t, haven’t, hadn’t, doesn’t, don’t, didn’t, won’t, shan’t, can’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t, mustn’t, needn’t, oughtn’t, daren’t]

 If the statement is in the affirmative, the tag it takes is usually negative. If the statement is negative, the tag it takes is positive.

e.g. Mr. Ranjith is a great scholar, isn’t he?

You can complete this project in a week, can’t you?

e.g. Ahalya will never accept your proposal, will she?

  If the main part of the sentence doesn’t have an auxiliary verb or a modal verb, the question tag is formed with the appropriate form of ‘do’ based on the tense of the main verb and the number of the subject.

e.g. Mahathi sings very well, doesn’t she?

(present tense – singular subject)

These girls sing very well, don’t they?

(present tense – plural subject)

Mahathi sang very well yesterday, didn’t she?

(past tense – singular subject)

These girls sang very well yesterday, didn’t they?

(past tense - plural subject)

  The subject hidden in an imperative sentence is always ‘you’ and so the subject of the question tag is also ‘you’.

  Imperative sentences that express a polite request, obligation, suggestion, invitation, impatience, warning etc. take ‘will or would’ as verbs in the question tag.

e.g. Please, bring me a glass of water, would you? (polite request)

Always follow the traffic rules, would you? (obligation)

Join us for lunch tomorrow, will you? (invitation)

Don’t ever meddle with my papers, will you? (warning)

  The pronoun ‘they’ is used if the subject of the sentence refers to people or animals or things in plural.

e.g. The young should learn to take up responsibilities, shouldn’t they?

The toys in the box are not new, are they?

  Though the subjects ‘someone, somebody, anyone, anybody, no one, nobody, everything, everyone and everybody’ are singular in meaning, the pronoun ‘they’ is used in the question tag.

e.g. Nobody has arrived yet, have they? Everyone will attend the party, won’t they?

  The pronoun ‘it’ is used in the question tag when the subject of the statement is:

• a thing or an animal in singular form

•  ‘Something’,    ‘Anything’  or ‘Nothing’

•  ‘This’ or ‘That’

e.g. The peacock is the national bird of India, isn’t it?

The blue frock was more expensive than the pink one, wasn’t it?

Something has gone wrong in the circuit, hasn’t it?

This is not your dad’s car, is it?

  When the statements begin with ‘There’, the same is used as the subject of the question tags too.

e.g. There is not much time left, is there?

There was a pond beside the temple, wasn’t there?

  The words ‘hardly, scarcely, rarely, barely and seldom’ are considered as negatives and therefore take positive question tags.

e.g. We rarely visit our native town, do we?

Ajith seldom speaks in English, does he?

  Statements having ‘a little’ or ‘a few’ are positive and therefore they take a negative tag. Statements having ‘little’ or ‘few’ are negative and therefore take a positive tag.

e.g. A few germs can be viewed through this microscope, can’t they?

Little do your parents know about this problem, do they?

  The appropriate form of ‘be’ is used, if the statement contains a ‘be’ verb. The ‘be’ forms ‘is, are, was, were’ are repeated in the tag. The verbam in the statement takes aren’t as its tag; ain’t is not used in formal English; ‘am I not’is very formal.

e.g. I am a very honest and humble being, aren’t I?

  Sentences that begin with ‘Let’s…’ take ‘shall we?’ as the question tag.

e.g. Let’s close our eyes and meditate for some time, shall we?

Let’s all go to the beach this evening, shall we?

  Sentences that begin with ‘Each of ’, ‘Either of ’, ‘Neither of ’, ‘Both of ’ and ‘All of ’ take plural pronouns as the subject in the question tag.

e.g. Neither of my two brothers helped

me in that situation, did they?

All of us are not eligible to apply for this course, are we?

  Punctuation: A comma is added at the end of the statement and the tag begins with a small letter and ends with a question mark.

  Intonation: Question tags are usually asked for agreement when the speaker already knows the answer. Sometimes the speaker uses a tag question when he really wants to know the answer.

If the speaker asks a real question, he/she uses a rising intonation i.e. his/her tone of voice rises.

If the speaker already knows the answer and expects only an agreement or confirmation, he/she uses a falling intonation i.e. his/her tone of voice falls.


Task – 1

Add suitable question tags to the following sentences and punctuate properly.

1.  The children are very happy today.  aren’t they?

2.  You have not returned my books yet. have you?

3.  We enjoyed the trip very much. didn't we?

4.  Let’s clean the shelves this weekend. shall we? 

5.  My mother rarely travels by bus. does she?

6.  Somebody must bell the cat. mustn’t they

7.  Anita never comes late to office. does she?

8.  I am always the winner. aren’t I?

9.  Don’t commit this mistake again. will you?

10.  There is a pharmacy near that bus stand. Isn’t it?

11.  Bacteria can never survive in extreme weather conditions. Can it?

12.  I am not as smart as you are. am I?

13.  The boys broke the window pane last evening. didn't they?

14.  Leaves wither during autumn. don’t they?

15.  You should add a little salt to the buttermilk. shouldn't you?


Task – 2

Correct the error found in the question tag in each of the following.

1. The evil doers cannot cross the path of truth, can’t they? can they?

2.  The vegetables in the fridge are still fresh, aren’t it? aren't they?

3.  The village head understood the intention of the politician, doesn’t he? didn't he?

4.  I claim to be a person of faith and prayer, aren’t I? don't I?

5.  The employees are seldom allowed to meet their boss, aren’t they? are they?

6.  Let’s organize a trip to Goa, can we? shall we?

7.  The landlady will charge me for the damage, shan’t she? won’t she?

8.  Both the sisters have left for Canada, aren’t they? haven’t they?

9.  That’s definitely not the right thing to do in this situation, isn’t that? is it?

10.  We needn’t apply for a bank loan, do we? need we?

11.  The Chief Guest spoke a few words, did he? didn't he?

12.  The rhinoceros has a horn made of keratin, haven’t they? hasn’t it?

Tags : Active and Passive Voice, Interrogations or Questions Tags | In Celebration of Being Alive | Prose | By Dr. Christiaan Barnard , 12th English : UNIT 3 : Prose : In Celebration of Being Alive
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12th English : UNIT 3 : Prose : In Celebration of Being Alive : Grammar | Active and Passive Voice, Interrogations or Questions Tags | In Celebration of Being Alive | Prose | By Dr. Christiaan Barnard

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