A verb can have two possible passive voices when it takes two objects: a direct object and an indirect object. Normally, it is the indirect object (the object that appears first in an active sentence) which becomes the subject of the passive sentence. We can however also use the direct object as the subject.
Two objects in an active sentences – two possible passive sentences
When there are two objects in an active sentence, there are two possible active sentences and two possible passive sentences.
- Sentence 1: The professor gave the students the books.
- Sentence 2: The professor gave the books to the students.
There are two objects in each of the following sentences:
- Object 1 = indirect object → the students
- Object 2 = direct object → the books
An indirect object is very often a person, a direct object a thing. When a direct object is followed by an indirect one, we put to in front of the indirect object.