What are voices? How many voices are there in the English Grammar? Here are the most frequently asked questions by learners. Let us find the answers, here.

"Voices" in the English Grammar

What Do We Mean by Voices?

'Voices' (also known as diathesis) describe the relationship between the 'verb' and its 'participants.'

Voices: Types

There are three voices in the English grammar as is mentioned below.

What Are Verbs and Participants?

'Verbs' are words that describe actions or states. 'Participants' such as the subject and object, are used in a sentence to provide context and meaning. However, a subject and a verb are essential components for forming a complete sentence.

Active Voice

Whenever the subject is the doer of an action the sentence is considered as an active voice.
Look at some examples of the active voice:

They suddenly started arguing.

Peter drove a BMW when he was in Sicilia.

Passive Voice

Whenever the direct object of an active voice is promoted to the subject of the sentence and the subject turns to the optional adjunct, the passive voice appears in the sentence.
In this case, the subject is not the doer of the action, it is actually the receiver or undergoer of the action. Check out the examples:

The cook is introduced to the workers in advance.

The shoes are designed by Christian Louboutin.

Middle Voice

an example of a sentence in the middle voice

'The middle voice' is another voice in English that has both characteristics of active voice and passive voice that is why it is called the middle voice.
Have a look at these examples:

She hurt herself when she was cutting the lettuce.

I talk to myself, when I feel alone.

Since the agent performs the action of the verb, the structure of the middle voice is syntactically the same as the active voice, while it functions semantically as the passive voice. The easiest way to define the middle voice is to understand that the subject is both performing and receiving the action, acting upon itself. For example:

The cat licked itself.

Asher tried to convince himself to leave his homeland.

How to Define the Middle Voice?

The middle voice has a special characteristic that makes it easy to define:

Check out the examples:

Hanna killed herself only because of you.

I introduced myself to the crowd.

Do not blame yourself.


Do not use any other pronouns but reflexive pronouns after transitive verbs in the middle voice because it would change the meaning of the sentence. Let us check out the examples below:

She would kill her if she had found out the truth.

She would kill herself if she had found out the truth.

Look how different these two examples are, only with a small change.


The voice of a verb shows the relationship between the verbs and its participant. There are three voices in English as follows. Check out the definitions.

  • active voice: the subject is the doer of the action
  • passive voice: the agent is the doer of the action
  • middle voice: the subject is the doer of the action, but they receive the action at the same time.


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