Active and Passive Voice
What is the difference between active and passive voice?
In a sentence using active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action expressed in the verb.
Examples:The dog jumped onto the boy.
Kristy will give a book report to the class.
The computer ate my paper.
In a sentence using passive voice, the subject is acted upon; he or she receives the actionexpressed by the verb.
The boy was jumped on by the dog.
A book report will be given by Kristy to the class.
My paper was eaten by the computer.
Helpful Hint: You can recognize passivevoice because the verb phrase will include a form of be (was, am, are, been, is). Don't assume that just because there is a form of 'be' that the sentence is passive, however. Sometimes a prepositionalphrase like "by the" in the sentences above indicates that the action is performed on the subject, and that the sentence is passive.
When to choose active voice?
Active voice is used for mostnon-scientific writing. Using active voice for the majority of your sentences, makes your meaning clear for readers and keeps the sentences from becoming too complicated or wordy. Even in scientificwriting, too much use of passive voice can cloud the meaning of your sentences.
The car was driven into the tree.
Notice that this sentence doesn't say who was driving?
The thievesdrove the car into the tree.
The brakes were slammed on by her as the truck came toward her.
Notice that this is an awkward sentence?
She slammed on her brakes as the truck cametoward her.
Active voice can also make your writing more concise, allowing you to get your point across using fewer words than you might by using passive voice.
The medicine was given to me bythe vet.
The vet gave me the medicine.
How do I change a sentence from passive to active voice?
It's easy! Ask yourself who or what is performing the action in the sentence (the agent)....
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