When constructing sentences, writers have two options when it comes to choosing the voice of their sentence – active or passive.
Both voices have their own strengths and weaknesses, and knowing when to use each one can greatly improve your writing. In this article, we will explore the difference between active and passive voice and provide relevant examples to help you understand the concept better.
In a sentence written in active voice, the subject performs the action described by the verb. The subject is at the beginning of the sentence, followed by the verb and then the object. Here’s an example:
Active Voice: The dog chased the cat.
In this sentence, “the dog” is the subject, “chased” is the verb, and “the cat” is the object. The subject (“the dog”) is actively performing the action of chasing the object (“the cat”).
Active voice is often preferred in writing because it makes the sentence more direct and clear. It’s easier for the reader to understand who is doing what in the sentence when it’s written in an active voice. Additionally, it can make the sentence more engaging and interesting to read.
In a sentence written in passive voice, the subject receives the action described by the verb. The focus is on the object of the sentence rather than the subject. The sentence structure follows the formula of object + verb + subject. Here’s an example:
Passive Voice: The cat was chased by the dog.
In this sentence, “the cat” is the object, “was chased” is the verb, and “by the dog” is the subject. The focus is not on the dog, which is the active agent, but instead on the cat, which is being acted upon.
Passive voice can be useful in certain situations, such as when the subject is unknown, unimportant or irrelevant to the sentence. However, overusing passive voice can lead to confusion and ambiguity in writing.
Active vs. Passive Voice: When to Use Each
Knowing when to use active or passive voice is crucial in effective writing. In general, it’s recommended to use active voice whenever possible, as it makes the sentence clearer and more direct. However, there are some situations where passive voice might be more appropriate.
Use Active Voice:
- To emphasize the subject of the sentence
- To make the sentence more engaging and interesting to read
- To be straightforward and concise
- To provide a clear description of the action happening in the sentence
Use Passive Voice:
- When the subject of the sentence is unknown or unimportant
- When the object of the sentence is more important than the subject
- When discussing negative events or situations that the reader may find uncomfortable or unpleasant.
Active Voice: John hit the ball.
Passive Voice: The ball was hit by John.
Active Voice: The police caught the thief.
Passive Voice: The thief was caught by the police.
Active Voice: She baked a cake for her friend.
Passive Voice: A cake was baked for her friend by her.
Active Voice: The company implemented the new policy.
Passive Voice: The new policy was implemented by the company.
In conclusion, active and passive voice both have their own strengths and weaknesses and knowing when to use each one is crucial in writing effective sentences. Active voice is generally preferred as it makes the sentence more direct and clear, while passive voice can be useful in certain situations. It’s important to remember that overusing passive voice can lead to confusion and ambiguity in writing. By understanding the difference between active and passive voice and the appropriate times to use each, you can greatly improve the clarity and effectiveness of your writing.