Difference Between Active Voice and Passive Voice (With Table)

Active Voice vs Passive Voice

Mood, person, number, tense, and voice are the associated properties of the verb. It’s essential to understand each one them but voice plays a critical role in sentence formation and its respective action.

Active Voice and Passive Voice is a very difficult area of English subject for many learners because one has to remember many facts to turn a simple sentence to the actual meaning.

The key difference between Active Voice and Passive Voice lies in the fact that when the action is performed by the subject then it is called Active Voice, whereas when the action is performed on the subject then it is called Passive Voice.

In Active Voice, you’ll find the subject at the beginning of the sentence and focus is there on the subject as the subject acts.

And in Passive Voice, you’ll find the subject at the end of the sentence or it is unknown and focus is there on the object as the object acts.

Example:

  1. Her dog hit the cat. – Here, the subject ‘dog’ does the action. Thus, it is in an active voice.
  2. A cat was hit by her dog. – Here, the action ‘hit’ was done to the cat. Thus, it is in the passive voice.

 

Comparison Table Between Active Voice and Passive Voice (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonActive VoicePassive Voice
DefinitionIt is the quality of a verb that explains when its subject is acting out the verb.When the subject of the sentence is being acted upon by the verb.
Flow of SentenceThe subject comes first, and then comes the object.First comes the object, and then comes the subject.
Focuses OnFocus is on the subject i.e. what subject is doing in the sentence.Focus is on the action i.e. what action is being performed.
Examples1. The dog chased the boy.1. The boy was chased by the dog.
2. MS-Project software was used for managing projects.2. We used MS-Project software for managing projects.
3. The physics committee of MIT University approved this research paper.3. This research paper was approved by the physics committee of MIT University.

 

What is Active Voice?

In Active Voice, the action in the sentence is performed by the subject as stated by the verb.

The flow of the active voice sentence follows the clear construct as subject > Verb > Object, which makes it easy to read and understand.

An active voice clears the confusion of the sentence and adds more impact to the writing because it is straightforward.

The use of Active Voice offers more clarity and conciseness to the sentences that make it easy to interpret its meaning.

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The following are a few simple examples that show that the subject is performing the verb’s action.

Examples:

  1. The child has eaten six bananas. – The child (subject) is doing the eating (verb)
  2. Raj built that toy house. – Raj (subject) is building the house (verb)
  3. Shama mailed the letter. – Shama (subject) is doing the mailing (verb)
Example of Active Voice
 

What is Passive Voice?

In Passive Voice, the verb acts on the subject. The subject of the sentence is no longer the “doer or actor” who acts rather it is being acted upon i.e. action recipient.

The subject, in Passive Voice, is used in the instrumental case. The flow of the passive voice sentence follows the Object > Verb > subject construct, which makes it difficult to read and understand.

The sentences in Passive Voices make them confusing, gloomy, and roundabout.

Passive voice generally undermines the clarity of writing along with stylistics issues that further restrict the reader from understanding the actual meaning of the sentence.

Passive voice also makes the sentences lengthy.

The following are a few simple examples that show that the verb is acting on the subject.

Examples:

  1. Six bananas must be eaten by the child – Bananas (subject) are being eaten (verb)
  2. That toy house was built by Raj – House (subject) is built by Raj (verb)
  3. The letter was mailed by Shama – The letter (subject) was being mailed (verb)
Example of Passive Voice

Main Differences Between Active Voice and Passive Voice

It is important to know the difference between Active Voice and Passive Voice with the help of the following key points:

  1. The object of Active Voice becomes the subject in a Passive Voice.
  2. Active Voice is used to write direct sentences or conversations, whereas Passive Voice is used to write descriptive sentences.
  3. In Active Voice, the action is performed by the subject, whereas, in Passive Voice, the action is done upon the subject.
  4. In Active Voice, the producer of the action is followed by the verb, whereas, in Passive Voice, the producer of the action is preceded by the verb.
  5. In Active Voice, the recipient of the action is preceded by the verb, whereas, in Passive Voice, the recipient of the action is followed by the verb.
  6. In the Active voice, the tone of the sentence is subjective and authoritative, whereas, in Passive Voice, the tone of the sentence objective and neutral.
  7. In Active Voice, sentences are more direct and clear, whereas, in Passive Voice, sentences are indirect and confusing.

Examples:

  1. Active Voice: Jai ate five shrimp at dinner.
  2. Passive Voice: At dinner, five shrimp were eaten by Jai.
  3. Active Voice: Kavita read the novel in one day.
  4. Passive Voice: The novel was read by Kavita in one day
  5. Active Voice: Siri changed the flat tire.
  6. Passive Voice: The flat tire was changed by Siri.
  7. Active Voice: Joe painted the entire house.
  8. Passive Voice: The entire house was painted by Joe.
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How to Remember the Difference Between Active Voice and Passive Voice

Time Needed : 2 minutes

Remembering the differences is very simple, just follow our mind mapping guide given below:

  1. Associate the first word with a thing or item which you see daily

    For e.g.: Middle line in letter H for Horizontal.

  2. Associate the second word with a thing or item which you see daily

    For e.g.: The two lines in letter V for Vertical.

  3. Recall the two words daily two times

    During morning and evening bring up the two words in front of you and then recall the things that you had associated with each word.

  4. Repeat for 7 days

    Repeating this process for a week will help you remember the difference between words for a long time.


 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Active Voice and Passive Voice

  1. What is the structure of Passive Voice?

    The structure of passive voice is constructed in such a way that it expresses the action done on the subject of the sentence rather than the subject doing the action.

    In passive voice, the verb comes before the doer.

  2. When should you use Passive Voice?

    A passive voice is used when you need to highlight the object or person who is affected by or receives the action.

    In other words, a passive voice is required when you emphasize the receiver of the action by placing him/her/it at the beginning of the sentence.

    For example, “The shark was caught single-handedly by the captain.”

  3. How many types of Active and Passive Voice are there?

    Based on the tenses, active and passive voice can be classified into the following major types:

    a) Present Simple
    b) Present Perfect
    c) Present Continuous
    d) Past Simple
    e) Past Perfect
    f) Past Continuous
    g) Future Simple
    h) Future Perfect

  4. Is “Have been” a passive voice?

    ‘Have been’ is used in both passive as well as active voice sentences.

    For instance, here is an example where ‘have been’ is used in a passive sentence- “Many movies have been underrated by the panel for unknown reasons.”

    When ‘have been’ comes in an active sentence the subject or the doer comes at the beginning of the sentence.

    For example: “We have been waiting for the right time to present the proposal.”

  5. How do you tell if a sentence is Passive or Active?

    A sentence is active when the subject is the doer of the action. For instance, “Tom runs very fast”. But in a passive sentence, the subject is not the doer but the object of the action. For instance, “the dinner was being prepared by Susan”

  6. What are the types of Passive Voice?

    The major types of passive voice along with examples are
    a) Present Passive – “That classic song is sung by my teacher.”
    b) Simple Past Passive – “Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci.”
    c) Present Perfect Passive – “The parcel has been received by me.”
    d) Future Passive – “All new candidates will be interviewed by the recruiter.”
    e) Model Perfect – “The work should have been finished on time.”

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Infographic

Active Voice vs Passive Voice

 

Learn More With the Help of Video


 

Conclusion

In the above lines and examples, we have seen how the same sentence or idea can be dramatically written in different ways.

Correctly understanding the difference between Active Voice and Passive Voice offers the power to change the subject or action of the sentence. Active voice is a little clearer than Passive Voice.


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between Active Voice and Passive Voice

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on the Active Voice and Passive Voice. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Word Cloud for Active Voice and Passive Voice

 

References

  1. https://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/active_voice.htm
  2. https://www.ef.com/wwen/english-resources/english-grammar/passive-voice/
  3. https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/passive-voice/
  4. https://www.iwco.com/blog/2016/08/17/use-active-voice-in-writing/
  5. https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/style-and-usage/active-voice-adds-impact-to-your-writing.html

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