In the Verb Groups lesson we talked about the passive voice. We can use the concept of subjects, complements, and modifiers to help understand what is happening in passive voice.
For example, compare the subjects and complements in these two almost-identical snippets:
The original (active voice)
Corinne unwrapped her father's bandage.
The rewrite (passive voice)
Her father's bandage was unwrapped by Corinne.
Using the passive voice does two things:
- The complement moves into the subject slot—meaning the person or thing the action was happening to now becomes the focus of the sentence.
- The original subject becomes a modifier—meaning we could remove it from the sentence and thus hide the person doing the action if we want to.
The passive voice only works when a verb has a complement. Try turning "He ran" into a passive sentence. "Was run"? It doesn't make sense on its own.
There are a few tricks to passive voice when it comes to complements that aren't noun groups, but the ins and outs of it will not be gone into here. *wink*