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

Active voice example

The woman kissed Active voice the cat.

Passive voice example

The cat is kissed Passive voice by the woman.

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

Passive construction example

The cat is kissed. Passive construction

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.

Passive voice example

The action was taken Passive voice to stop the legislation.

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

Passive voice example

The action was taken by Passive voice 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.

Active voice example

The NGO took Active voice example 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.