Active and Passive Voice

Understanding Active and Passive Voice

Active and Passive Voice are two different ways in which a sentence can be structured. Understanding both can dramatically improve your writing. It helps in diversifying the sentences in your writing and making your text more exciting and dynamic. Let's dive into exploring these two forms of sentence structure in detail.

Active Voice

In active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action. It follows the structure: Subject + Verb + Object. Active voice is direct, impactful, and clearer in delivering the intended message. In many cases, sentences in active voice require fewer words and provide more information than their passive counterparts. It helps to give your writing a more assertive tone.

Examples of Active Voice

  • I am making the dinner.
  • John is baking a cake.
  • The cat chased the mouse.
  • The manager approved the report.

Passive Voice

On the other hand, in passive voice, the subject is acted upon by the verb. The structure becomes: Subject + Verb + by + Object. Passive voice is useful when you want to emphasize the action over the doer. It's often used in formal, scientific, or legal writing where the focus is on the action rather than who is performing it.

Examples of Passive Voice

  • The dinner is being made by me.
  • A cake is being baked by John.
  • The mouse was chased by the cat.
  • The report was approved by the manager.

Converting Active Voice to Passive Voice

Moving from active to passive voice involves making the object of the active sentence into the subject of the passive one. The verb is altered and the subject is shifted and typically preceded by the preposition 'by'.

Steps to convert Active to Passive

  • Identify the subject, verb and the object in the sentence.
  • Make the object the subject of the sentence in the passive voice.
  • Change the verb into its past participle form. If the verb was in a verb tense, maintain the tense by using appropriate auxiliary verb.
  • Add 'by' before the original subject, this now becomes the object in the passive sentence. In some cases, the original subject can be omitted when it's irrelevant to the context or the doer is unknown.

Example Conversion

  • Active: Sam crafted the sculpture. (Sam = Subject, crafted = Verb, the sculpture = Object)
  • Passive: The sculpture was crafted by Sam. (The sculpture = Subject, was crafted = Verb, by Sam = Object)

Converting Passive Voice to Active Voice

The process to switch from passive to active voice is simply the reverse of the method used in switching from active to passive. Here, the 'by object' becomes the subject, the verb gets converted to its base form, and the 'subject' now becomes the object.

Steps to convert Passive to Active

  • Identify the subject, verb and the object ('by' phrase) in the sentence.
  • Make the 'by' object, which is the subject in the active voice.
  • Change the verb to its base form. Maintain the tense using appropriate auxiliary verbs.
  • Move the verb next to the subject and follow it with the object.

Example Conversion

  • Passive: The sculpture was crafted by Sam. (The sculpture = subject, was crafted = verb, by Sam = object)
  • Active: Sam crafted the sculpture. (Sam = Subject, crafted = Verb, the sculpture = Object)

When to use Active and Passive Voice?

Both active and passive voices have their uses. Active voice is generally preferred, as it's more concise and straight to the point. However, passive voice can be useful under certain circumstances. For example, when the identity of the actor is irrelevant, unknown, or you want to emphasize the action rather than the actor.


To be a successful communicator, one should have a solid understanding of and ability to use both active and passive voice in their writing. By varying your sentence structure, you can generate a more engaging and interesting writing style.

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