What is the active form of this sentence

"My phone is being tapped".

This sentence contains the passive construction (being tapped).

I think that the active form would be

"they are tapping my phone"

but then it looks like the present continuous tense. Could you explain it, please?

  • 2
    "My phone being tapped" is not a sentence. Isn't it "My phone (has been/was/is/will be) being tapped"? – user24743 May 10 '16 at 6:40

Well, let's start by making a complete sentence of your passive voice example (it isn't a sentence):

I'm not worried about my phone being tapped.

To put it in active voice, you have to include the tapper of the phone:

I'm not worried about anyone (or someone) tapping my phone.

The point is that in the passive voice the phone is being tapped (or not) by someone, and that's understood. As a general rule, if you want to change the passive to the active, you take the by clause and make it the subject of the sentence. If there isn't a by clause, you need to imagine one. (Who is tapping the phone? Someone.)

Now, in the active voice, anyone and someone are pretty much interchangeable. However, in the passive voice, anyone is rather more emphatic than someone. Anyone has the sense of I'm quite sure that nobody is tapping my phone, where someone has the sense of I don't think that there's a person out there who is tapping my phone. If you just say I'm not worried about my phone being tapped, the generally understood meaning is by someone. You would add by anyone for emphasis, and stress the word itself as well.

  • Present continuous "Someone is tapping on my phone". And passive present continuous "My phone being tapped(by someone)". Then passive present continuous form is also a passive gerund form. Am I right? Then what will be the active gerund form?. – Rocky May 10 '16 at 10:19
  • 1. No, you aren't right. 2. "Someone tapping on my phone." (Note that that is not a complete sentence, and neither is "My phone being tapped (by someone)." So, leave out the "is". Reread the examples I gave you and it should become clear. :) – BobRodes May 10 '16 at 17:16
  • ".Okay I'll take your example "I'm not worried about anyone (or someone) tapping my phone". here tapping is gerund right? and passve gerund form is "I'm not worried about my phone being tapped". Now if I say in present continuous then "I'm not worried about anyone (or someone) is tapping my phone" and in passive present continuous"I'm not worried about my phone is being tapped" – Rocky May 11 '16 at 5:32
  • 1. Right. :) 2. Not quite. For present continuous you wouldn't use about, you would use that: I'm not worried that someone is tapping my phone or I'm not worried that my phone is being tapped (by someone). – BobRodes May 12 '16 at 2:14

If you want to change a sentence from passive to active, you need to follow the rules:

The first col shows the tense, the second the active and the third - pasive.

  1. present simple: I make a cake. A cake is made (by me).

  2. present continuous I am making a cake. A cake is being made (by me).

  3. past simple I made a cake. A cake was made (by me).

  4. past continuous I was making a cake. A cake was being made (by me).

  5. present perfect I have made a cake. A cake has been made (by me).

  6. pres. perf. continuous I have been making a cake. A cake has been being made (by me).

  7. past perfect I had made a cake. A cake had been made (by me).

  8. future simple I will make a cake. A cake will be made (by me).

  9. future perfect I will have made a cake. A cake will have been made (by me).

So if you look at the row with present countinuous (number 2) you can do you statement more easily like:

Passive: My phone being tapped(by someone).

Active: Someone is tapping on my phone.

You can change the doer.

The table with active and passiev is from:


I hope I have helped you. :)


Passive voice is { form of to be } + { past participle form of verb }.

John took the bikes.

The bikes were taken [by John].

-ing words don't indicate passive voice.

With this sentence of yours, though:

My phone is being tapped.

this is the present progressive combined with passive voice. Combining these two doesn't change the meaning of either verb construction, the sentence just has both meanings.

You would convert this to active voice by doing this:

Someone is tapping my phone.

As an aside, I don't think being here is a gerund. -ing words are gerunds only if they are functioning as nouns. Meaning they will fill in for the sentence's subject, object, or object of preposition.

You might be tempted to think that being is a noun because it follows is, but this is not true. Best way to think of it is to consider the set of words is being tapped to be the verb.

  • This is active geund sentence "I like playing" then what would be the passive gerund? – Rocky May 10 '16 at 13:43
  • "Playing was liked by me." – LawrenceC May 10 '16 at 13:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.