Passive and Active Voice: Understanding the Differences and When to Use Each
Clear and effective communication is key in any language, and in English, one important aspect of this is knowing when to use passive or active voice. But what are these two voices, and how do they differ?
A. Definition of passive and active voice
Passive voice is when the subject of the sentence is acted upon by the verb, while the doer of the action is either unknown, unimportant, or purposely left out. Active voice, on the other hand, is when the subject performs the action in the sentence.
B. Overview of the differences between passive and active voice
The main difference between passive and active voice is the focus of the sentence. Passive voice places emphasis on the object of the sentence, while active voice places emphasis on the subject. Passive voice is often used to be more formal or avoid assigning blame, while active voice is used to make the sentence more direct and the subject the focus.
II. Uses of Passive Voice
A. To emphasize the object of the sentence
Passive voice is useful when you want to draw attention to the object of the sentence, rather than the subject. For example, “The cake was baked by my grandmother” emphasizes the cake, rather than who baked it.
B. To be more formal
Passive voice can be more formal than active voice, making it appropriate for academic or professional writing. For example, “The results were analyzed by the researchers” is more formal than “The researchers analyzed the results.”
C. To avoid assigning blame
Passive voice can also be used to avoid assigning blame, as the doer of the action is often not specified. For example, “Mistakes were made” is less accusatory than “I made mistakes.”
III. Uses of Active Voice
A. To make the subject of the sentence the focus
Active voice is useful when you want to draw attention to the subject of the sentence. For example, “I baked the cake” emphasizes who baked the cake, rather than the cake itself.
B. To be less formal
Active voice is often less formal than passive voice, making it appropriate for more casual or conversational writing. For example, “I analyzed the results” is less formal than “The results were analyzed by the researchers.”
C. To make the sentence more direct
Active voice can also make the sentence more direct and easier to understand. For example, “The ball hit the window” is more direct than “The window was hit by the ball.”
IV. Examples of Passive and Active Voice
A. Passive: The ball was thrown by the boy
B. Active: The boy threw the ball
V. Common Mistakes
A. Not recognizing when to use passive or active voice
One common mistake is not recognizing when to use passive or active voice. It’s important to consider the focus and tone of the sentence, as well as the context in which it will be used.
B. Too often using passive voice
Another common mistake is using passive voice too often, which can make writing sound indirect or confusing. Active voice is often clearer and more direct, making it a better choice for many sentences.
A. Summary of the differences between passive and active voice
Passive and active voice differ in their focus, tone, and clarity. Passive voice emphasizes the object of the sentence and can be more formal or avoid assigning blame, while active voice emphasizes the subject and is often more direct and less formal.
B. Final thoughts on when to use passive and active voice
Choosing between passive and active voice depends on the context and tone of the sentence. By understanding the differences and when to use each,
Sure, here are some additional examples to further illustrate the differences between passive and active voice:
The report was written by the intern. (emphasizes the report)
The car was hit by a truck. (avoids assigning blame)
The intern wrote the report. (emphasizes the intern)
A truck hit the car. (more direct and easier to understand)
The decision was made by the committee. (more formal)
The message was received by the recipient. (emphasizes the message)
The committee made the decision. (less formal)
The recipient received the message. (more direct)
The picture was taken by the photographer. (emphasizes the picture)
The mistake was made by someone in the company. (avoids assigning blame)
The photographer took the picture. (emphasizes the photographer)
Someone in the company made the mistake. (more direct)
an exercise and its correction
Sure, here’s an exercise and its correction:
Exercise: Rewrite the following sentences in active voice.
The cake was baked by my mother.
The package was delivered by the mailman.
The song was written by John Lennon.
The letter was signed by the manager.
The mistake was made by the accountant.
My mother baked the cake.
The mailman delivered the package.
John Lennon wrote the song.
The manager signed the letter.
The accountant made the mistake.