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Suppose take this sentence:

The door is opened

I am not very sure that it is in passive voice. But I think so.

I am struggling converting it into active voice.(If it is already in active voice, how to convert it into passive voice)

Please help me.

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

To be in the active voice, the sentence needs a definite subject. That is, you need to say who opens the door. If you don't know who does it, you could use:

Somebody opens the door.

Sentences like "the door is opened" can be parsed in two ways: as passive voice present tense, or with "opened" being an adjective and "is" a copular verb. This parsing can be made unambiguous in several ways; for example "the door is opened by remote control" can only be passive voice. One way to put this sentence into active voice is "you open the door by remote control".

For the second parsing, it's not in the passive voice, and in this case, the meaning is the same as

The door is open.

The verb "is" cannot be put into passive voice, because only transitive verbs can be put into passive voice.

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An interesting example with the remote control, since it is a case of the preposition ‘by’ in a passive sentence not actually marking the agent, but a ‘true’ prepositional phrase. The active of “The door is opened by remote control” would not be “Remote control opens the door”, but rather “You open/One opens the door by remote control”. The active of “The door is opened by Rob”, on the other hand, would be “Rob opens the door”. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 21 '13 at 15:17
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Part of the problem is the difference between open and opened. The first is an adjective meaning

not closed or barred: the door is open

The second is a participle, a verb form

to move (as a door) from a closed position

As a verb it can be active

He opened the door

It can be passive

The door was opened by him

Using your original sentence, the better form would be

The door is open

In this case, the verb is does not really convey active or passive. Rather, it is a state of being. There is no action. The predicate adjective makes sense.

If you want to emphasize the action, you need an actor.

The door was opened by him

or

He opened the door

In these cases, opened is part of the verb conveying the action of opening rather than the state of being open.

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Sorry, but the conclusion of this answer is simply not true. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with “The door is opened” without an agent. Example: “The room is dark and quiet. Sally is sitting in the chair, listening for the slightest sound. Suddenly, the door is opened behind her, and a sliver of light enters the room from the hallway.” –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 21 '13 at 15:21
    
@JanusBahsJacquet I guess I don't disagree with you in principle. Obviously there must be an actor to use the verb form, but it/he/she may be unstated (unless it is an automatic door, and there still is a moving force). The difference still exists between action (verb) and stasis (adjective). –  bib Aug 21 '13 at 15:33
    
True, only transitive verbs can form passives, and since transitive verbs by definition must have a subject (though not necessarily an actor, though for this verb it happens to be one), any passive construction must on some level have an agent. But the agent can be more than just unstated, it can be all but impossible to pinpoint. Consider, “As we passed over the mountain top, a magnificent view of the ranges and plains below was afforded us”—who or what exactly is the agent that affords ‘us’ this grand view? There is an implied agent, but it is so vague that it would be hard to state it. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 21 '13 at 15:41
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