Active Voice and Passive Voice is a challenging area of English for many learners because one must remember many facts to turn a simple sentence into the actual meaning.
In Active Voice, you’ll find the subject at the beginning of the sentence, and the focus is 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 the focus is there on the object as the object acts.
- Active voice is a grammatical structure in which the subject acts as the verb.
- Passive voice is a grammatical structure in which the subject receives the verb’s action.
- Active voice is more concise and direct than passive, which can be more wordy and indirect.
Active Voice vs Passive Voice
In active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action, whereas in passive voice, the subject of the sentence receives the action. For instance, active voice says, “she is writing the book of neuroscience” and in passive voice we say, “the book of neuroscience is written by her”.
- Her dog hit the cat. – Here, the subject ‘dog’ does the action. Thus, it is in an active voice.
- Her dog hit a cat. – Here, the action ‘hit’ was done to the cat. Thus, it is in the passive voice.
|Parameter of Comparison||Active Voice||Passive Voice|
|Definition||The quality of a verb explains when its subject is acting out the verb.||When the verb is acting upon the subject of the sentence.|
|Flow of Sentence||The subject comes first, and then comes the object.||First comes the object, and then comes the subject.|
|Focuses On||Focus is on the subject, i.e. what the subject does in the sentence.||Focus is on the action, i.e. what action is being performed.|
|Examples||1. The dog chased the boy.||1. The dog chased the boy.|
|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. The physics committee of MIT University approved this research paper.|
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.
Active Voice offers more clarity and conciseness to the sentences, making it easy to interpret their meaning.
The following are a few simple examples that show that the subject is performing the verb’s action.
- The child has eaten six bananas. – The child (subject) is doing the eating (verb)
- Raj built that toy house. – Raj (subject) is building the house (verb)
- Shama mailed the letter. – Shama (subject) is doing the mailing (verb)
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 stylistic 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.
- The child must eat six bananas – Bananas (subject) are being eaten (verb)
- Raj built that toy house – House (subject) is built by Raj (verb)
- Shama mailed the letter – The letter (subject) was being mailed (verb)
Main Differences Between Active Voice and Passive Voice
It is essential to know the difference between Active Voice and Passive Voice with the help of the following key points:
- The object of the Active Voice becomes the subject of a Passive Voice.
- Active Voice is used to write direct sentences or conversations, whereas Passive Voice is used to write descriptive sentences.
- In Active Voice, the subject acts, whereas in Passive Voice, the subject does the action.
- 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.
- 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.
- In the Active voice, the tone of the sentence is subjective and authoritative, whereas in Passive Voice, the tone of the sentence is objective and neutral.
- In Active Voice, sentences are more direct and clear, whereas in Passive Voice, sentences are indirect and confusing.
- Active Voice: Jai ate five shrimp at dinner.
- Passive Voice: At dinner, five shrimp were eaten by Jai.
- Active Voice: Kavita read the novel in one day.
- Passive Voice: The novel was read by Kavita one day
- Active Voice: Siri changed the flat tire.
- Passive Voice: The flat tire was changed by Siri.
- Active Voice: Joe painted the entire house.
- Passive Voice: The entire house was painted by Joe.
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Emma Smith holds an MA degree in English from Irvine Valley College. She has been a Journalist since 2002, writing articles on the English language, Sports, and Law. Read more about me on her bio page.