Active vs passive voice (2023)

Take a sentence like "I want an ice cream now". It's clear and direct - you know right away that the subject,of, wants an object,Eis. Now rephrase that sentence and flip it so that the object is in the subject position: "I want an ice cream now." Not only is it longer, but it's also more independent, more indirect, and a bit more awkward.

These two sentences are examples of the active and the passive voice. certain types ofTo writethey are best suited to the active voice, while the passive voice is better suited to other spellings. Understanding how, when, and why to use them is key to being an effective writer and public speaker.

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What is the active voice, what is the passive voice and what are their different functions?

In the active voice, the subject performs an action:

There Dog chasing that Ball.

Notice how the subjectdog, performs the action,to pursue, on the target of action,she was. This is a simple and direct example of the active voice.

In the passive the goal of the action,she was, is placed first as the focus of the sentence. The sentence is reversed and the verb acts on the subject. In other words, the subject ispassive:

(Video) Active versus Passive Voice

The ball is chased by the dog.

Active and passive are the two grammatical voices in English. Neither is inherently better than the other, but each is suited to specific styles of writing. There's a reason news anchors sound disconnected from the stories they're reporting: they often speak in the passive voice. There's also a reason op-eds sound so sure of their position: they usually write in the active voice.

Although the idea of ​​teachers telling their students to avoid the passive voice is repeated so many times that it seems like a trope, the truth is that the passive voiceit doesit has its applications. We'll get into that later. First, let's look at how to recognize the active and passive voice in your writing and in the work of others.

active voice

As we have learned, in the active voice, the subject of the sentence carries out the action. Here are two examples of active sentences:

Shira likes to watch birds.

She loves the twilight.

Whatever verb you use, structure your sentence so that the subject interprets the verb you are writing in the active voice.

The active voice has a direct and clear tone. Use it when you want the reader to focus on the subject of your sentence and the action you are taking, rather than the goal of the action.

passive voice

insidepassive voice, the goal of the action is the focus, and the verb acts on the subject. Or, to put it in the passive voice, the verb acts on the subject. Each passive sentence contains two verbs:

  • A conjugated form of "to be"
  • Past participle of the main verb

Look at the examples above, now written in the passive voice:

Shira likes to watch birds.

Twilight is loved by her.

Notice how the goals of the action, including the direct objects of the sentences, are now the focus. Sentences now contain a conjugated form of "to be" (es) and the past participle of the main verb (valuedjAmado). Passive sentences are often longer than active sentences simply because they must contain additional words such as prepositions. Look at this sentence in the passive voice:

are summer holidays[conjugated form of "to be"]Amado[past participle of main verb]Pro[Preposition]my friends.

(Video) Active vs. Passive Voice | Grammar Lessons

However, sentences written in the passive voice do not necessarily need a preposition. Look at the following example sentences:

The check has been paid.

He will be remembered.

The Philippines is known for its marine biodiversity.

The passive has a more subtle tone than the active. Sometimes your writing needs that tone, e.g. B. if you want your reader to focus on the action being described or the goal of the action and not on who or what is performing the action. Therefore the passive is used in laboratory reports— conveys scientific objectivity by minimizing the focus on the actor.

Use of active and passive voice.

Although you may have been told that passive voice writing is "bad writing," it's actually more nuanced than that. For most texts you write, you likeE-Mails,blog entries, and many kinds ofEssays, the active voice is a more effective way of communicating the ideas, issues, and facts you are expressing.

With certain types ofTo writeYes, the passive is necessary. Consider how crime and incident news reports are typically written and delivered:

A car was hijacked on Elm Street last night.

They stole cash from the register.

In these types of accounts, the passive voice is used to emphasize the act that took place rather than the person or group who committed the act, often because the perpetrator is unknown or has not yet been convicted of the crime.

There are other styles of writing that focus on the plot itself rather than the author of the plot. This includes scientific and sometimes historical reports. These use the passive voice to draw the reader's attention to what has happened or is happening. Here are some examples:

The rats were placed in the maze.

The governor was invested in the House of Representatives.

Note that in both sentences there is no mention of the author of the action. That's because it's implicit or irrelevant. In the first example, the scientist conducting the experiment is the one who put the rats in the maze. In the second case, those performing the initiation ceremony are not relevant to what is expressed in the sentence.

(Video) Active Voice vs Passive Voice | Advance Grammar

How to change the passive to the active

After you've completed your first draft, read it. You might even want to read it out loud and hear how it sounds. By reading and listening to your own work, you can identify awkward sentences and unclear phrasing and mark them as checkpoints in your next draft. You'll also hear where you've used active and passive voices and how they change the tone of all your work.

Suppose you spotted some cases of passive voice in yourargumentative essay:

Students deserve more flexible scheduling options. Significant tuition fees are paid to the university each year and many feel that the service that students pay for is unmatched.

See how these phrases feel like they're dancing around the topic at hand instead of tackling it head-on? The author doesn't argue very convincingly, but he can make his writing much more effective by switching it to the active voice.

Identify, sentence by sentence, who or what is doing the action and make it relevant as you paraphrase it. Do in the first sentenceStudentsthe subject, since he is the one doing the action. The main verb in this sentence isto deserve,and the goal ismore flexible programming options, which becomes the direct object in your new sentence. When these are identified, restructure the sentence so that the subject now performs the verb directly. In the active voice, this sentence would read like this:

Students deserve more flexible scheduling options.

See how this version gets straight to the point? It also makes the writer sound more confident, which is a priority in argumentative writing. Let's try changing the second sentence to active, which also allows us to condense:

Students pay a significant amount in tuition to the university each year, and many feel that they are not receiving the level of service they pay for.

As you can see from theconnection setabove, you can writesomeType of sentence in active or passive as long as the sentence contains an atransitives Verb. . . . It's easycomplex sentence(or even a compound sentence), you can drastically change its tone simply by revising its structure.

If you are unsure whether a sentence is active or passive based on its sound, use the rules above to identify the two voices in your work. The biggest clue that you have a passive sentence on your hands is a form of "to be" followed by a past tense.participle(Sport.,It was requestedÖwill be missed). Not all passive sentences tell who is doing the action, but if they do, see a preposition next to it (e.g.from zombiesÖfor my brother).

You can use any voice if you areparaphrasea longer job. Sometimes, as in cases where you areparaphraseFor a scholarly article, you must use the passive voice in your paraphrased version. In others, you could make the original clearer by paraphrasing in the active voice.

Examples of active and passive voices

Check out these examples of active and passive voices in action:

Attachment:Will Ajani visit us today?

Passive:Will we be visited by Ajani today?

(Video) ACTIVE & PASSIVE VOICE | Definition & Examples

As you can see, questions can be written with any voice. Other types of sentences, such as exclamations and imperatives, are often best written in the active voice:

Attachment:Please take off your shoes before entering my house.

Passive:Shoes must be removed before entering my apartment.

Attachment:Close the door!

Passive:Let the door close!

See how the passive voice makes the request feel more like a suggestion on the first pair? In the second pair, the passive voice makes the message sound forced and formal, rather than an urgent exclamation.

Now look at these two examples:

Attachment:I poured the solution into the beaker and heated it to 100°F.

Passive:The solution was poured into the beaker and heated to 100°F.

Frequently asked questions about Active and Passive

What is the active voice, what is the passive voice and what is the difference?

In the active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action at the goal of the action. In the passive, the aim of the action is in the foreground and the verb acts on the subject. There are numerous differences between the two grammatical voices, but the most important is that the active voice is clearer and more direct, while the passive voice is more subtle and can feel more distant.

When should you use the active or the passive voice?

Use the active voice in any sentence that focuses on the actor. Unless your writing is mostly academic or reporting incidents involving unknown perpetrators, most of the sentences you write should be in the active voice.

The passive voice is for sentences where you need to emphasize the goal of an action or the action itself, rather than who or what the verb is doing.

How do I change the passive to active?

To convert the passive to active, determine who is actually performing the action in the sentence, and then restructure the sentence so that the interpreter takes center stage and performs the verb well above the direct object of the sentence.

  • Passive:Salsa dancing has always been loved by our community.
  • Attachment:Our community has always loved to dance salsa.

Here's a tip:You don't have to guess whether you use or break certain words correctlygrammatical rulesin your writing. Just copy and paste your text into oursgrammar checkerand get instant feedback on whether your sentences contain misspellings, punctuation errors, or structural errors.

(Video) Passive Voice in English: Active and Passive Voice Rules and Useful Examples


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