Grammar is essential in the IELTS test as it plays a significant role in demonstrating your language proficiency, ensuring clear communication, and helping you meet the specific scoring criteria. To improve your chances of success in the IELTS test, it is important to develop strong grammar skills and practice using them in the right context by watching English Grammar videos and doing English Grammar exercises provided as free online resources by most of the reputed IELTS coaching institutes.

Before we get into different grammar topics that you need to improve, let’s understand about the right voice to be used. “Voice” refers to the connection between the subject and the object of a sentence, which is linked through a verb. The use of both the active and passive voice is important in the IELTS test, depending on the context and the specific section of the test you are dealing with. Before getting into the relevance of voice in the IELTS test, let us first understand what the active and passive voices are and its importance when preparing for the IELTS exam. 

What is the active and passive voice in English Grammar?

The active voice is when you structure a sentence such that the subject performs the verb. 

For eg. Reena wrote the letter.

The active voice has a direct, clear tone. It is used when you want the focus to be on the subject [Reena] of your sentence.

Conversely, in the passive voice, the subject receives the action.

For eg. The letter was written by Reena.

The passive voice is used when you want your reader to focus on the action [was written] or the action’s target [letter] and not on who [Reena] is performing the action. 

A sentence in the passive voice will contain two verbs: 

A car was stolen.

The appropriate form of  the verb “to be” – was

The main verb’s past participle – stolen

Neither voice is better than the other.  Each voice should be used according to suitability and purpose. For instance, news is normally read out in the passive voice whereas opinions are normally stated in the active voice. 

Relevance of grammar in IELTS Writing and Speaking

The use of both active and passive voice is important in the IELTS test, depending on the context and the specific section of the test you are dealing with. 

Here’s why both are relevant:

Writing Task 1 (Academic): 

In the Academic IELTS Writing Task 1, you are often required to describe processes, charts, graphs, and diagrams. The use of the passive voice is more common in maps, plans and process diagrams. In maps and plans, the focus is on changes and developments while in process diagrams, the test takers are expected to summarise the stages in a process and/or the sequence of producing or manufacturing something. Using the passive voice ensures that unnecessary information is omitted as a result of which the report is to the point and accurate.     

To illustrate, based on a map, a report could have the following sentence in the passive voice.

“The car park on the east side of the road was removed and towards the right side of the eastern road, many new apartments and shops were constructed”. 

Here, the changes that have happened are more important than who has done the changes, and hence, the passive voice has been used.

In a process diagram, sentences could be –

The water from the main water tank is passed through a boiler.

The hot water radiators are connected with the boiler and these radiators are made

of small tubes.

 Here, who carried out the changes is not known. The passive voice is also used when the doer of the action is obvious or unimportant. 

In the case of natural processes, however, the subject is important, and therefore, the active voice will be used. For instance –

If the diagram pertains to the water cycle –

Water from large water bodies evaporates in the form of water vapour into the air.

Or

The clouds formed because of evaporation and condensation keep drifting from one place to another.

Writing Task 1 (General Training): 

In the General Training IELTS Writing Task 1, you may need to write a letter based on a given situation. The choice of voice depends on the tone and formality of the letter. In formal letters, the passive voice can be used to sound more impersonal and objective, while the active voice may be more suitable for informal letters. Understanding when to use each voice can enhance the tone of your response.

Informal letters – An example of the use of the active voice is:

To contribute, you can bring something to eat, especially a famous food item from your own

culture. I have asked others to do the same, so we can introduce one another to our own

Cultures. 

Formal letter – To illustrate, the letter is about a children’s toy purchased online which was damaged when it arrived. The letter is to the manager of the toy shop and it has to include a description of the problem with the toy. The content in passive voice could be – 

The doll’s left hand was broken and detached from the doll. Also, other items such as the doll’s kitchen equipment and bedroom furniture were damaged.

Writing Task 2 (Academic and General Training): 

In Task 2, you are required to write an essay expressing your opinion or presenting an argument. Here, using the active voice is often more effective because it makes your arguments and opinions more direct and engaging. 

To illustrate, an opinion in the active voice which sounds clear and effective is, ’ I personally believe that literate individuals should not only focus on fulfilling their personal aspirations but also contribute towards societal good’.

The passive voice can be used occasionally to vary sentence structure, but it should not dominate your writing.

Speaking: In the IELTS Speaking test, both active and passive voice can be used, depending on the situation. However, the active voice will be more commonly used. The passive voice can be used to vary the sentence structures. For eg. a sentence in the active voice could be ‘My friend Shona invited all of us to her house for dinner’. This could as well be said using the passive voice – ‘ We were all invited by my friend Shona to her house for dinner’.

Listening and Reading: While the use of voice is not explicitly assessed in the Listening and Reading sections, a sound understanding of both voices can help you comprehend written and spoken English better, as they are commonly used in various texts and conversations.
In conclusion, understanding when and how to use both active and passive voice is essential for achieving a high score on the IELTS test. It’s crucial to adapt your language to the specific requirements of each task and section of the test to effectively convey your ideas and maintain the appropriate tone and style. You can learn English Grammar Online by accessing English Grammar videos and English Grammar exercises. This way you can strengthen your understanding of English grammar and ensure clarity, coherence, and conciseness in your writing and speaking. Ensure that your choice of voice enhances the overall quality of your language without making it unnecessarily complex or vague.