Active and passive voice in writing

Active and passive voice in writing

Active voice and passive voice define how an action is told. While the subject is doing the action in active voice, the person or thing that receives the action comes before the verb in passive voice. You should use the correct verb tense to create a passive voice.

Active and passive voice examples

The woman kissed the cat.

The cat is kissed by the woman.

You don’t have to mention the subject at all in a passive construction:

The cat is kissed.

As there is more clarity in active voice, avoiding passive voice in academic writing is often advised. However, it is not grammatically wrong, and there may be some cases where you might use passive voice. Still, avoid using it too much, as clarity and concision are essential in essays and research papers.

Using the passive voice

There are specific cases in which the passive voice is acceptable in academic writing process:

Active voice with first-person pronouns Passive voice version
I surveyed thirty companies for the project.
Thirty companies were surveyed for the project.
We gathered the findings for the project.
The findings were gathered for the project.

Avoiding the passive voice

As you can see, there are certain situations in which you can use the passive voice. However, the active voice is strongly recommended in academic writing as it offers clarity and precision.

The action was taken to stop the legislation.

Above sentence lacks clarity, as it is vital to know the actor to know what happened.

The action was taken by the NGO to stop the legislation.

Although the actor is provided in the above sentence, try to construct an active sentence for concision and clarity.

The NGO took action to stop the legislation.

When writing a passive sentence, determine whether the actor would help make your point clearer. Active constructions give essential credibility to your paragraphs and can make them more convincing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Passive and active voice defines how an action is told in a sentence. An active voice example would be: The woman kissed the cat. A passive voice could be something like; The cat is kissed. Remember that academic writing prefers active voice.

Active and passive voice differ on how they tell an action. Active voice states the subject of the action whereas the passive voice doesn’t directly tell by who the action is done. However, passive voice sometimes indicated the subject too.

Passive voices focus on the subject that experience the action and not on the subject that actually performs the action. Thus, an example would be; The car was hit. Although it is sometimes useful, please remember that in academic writing, they are not preferred.

Active voices are created by clearly defining the subject that performs the action in a sentence. First, you need to use the correct verb tense and then create sentence by emphasizing the actor; The women kissed the cat. 

Thank you for reading. If you need further information, feel free to have a look at our essay samples or contact us at live chat.

Deniz Akcaoglu
Deniz Akcaoglu
Content editor and writer. Probably out there trying to get into an obscure band she actually hates the sound of.

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