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Active v. Passive Voice

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Tim Marklevitz

on 11 July 2013

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Transcript of Active v. Passive Voice

Subject and Object Pronouns
What is the difference between Active and Passive Voice?
1. In active voice sentences, the subject does the action.
ex: Liz played the piano.

Notable Characteristics:
1. Stronger
2. Uses fewer words
3. Clearly shows who performs the action.

2. In passive voice sentences, the subject receives the action.
ex. The piano was played by Liz.

1. Just because your sentence is passive does not make it wrong.
Take a look at the following sentences:
1. The teacher teaches the students.
Read the following sentences. In which of the following active sentences is the word "me" used correctly?
Passive Voice
Object + "to be" + past participle + by + subject
When Should Passive Voice be Avoided?
1. Passive sentences can get you into trouble in academic writing because they can be vague about who is responsible for the action:

2. Academic writing often focuses on differences between the ideas of different researchers, or between your own ideas and those of the researchers you are discussing. Too many passive sentences can create confusion:

3. Some students use passive sentences to hide holes in their research:

4. Finally, passive sentences often sound wordy and indirect. They can make the reader work unnecessarily hard. And since they are usually longer than active sentences, passive sentences take up precious room in your paper:
11th Grade Honors American Literature
Active vs. Passive Voice
a. "The teacher" = Subject (Performs the action)
b. "teaches" = Action (verb)
c. "the students." = Object (Receives the action)
2. The apple is eaten by the boy.
Q. Are these examples of active voice or passive voice?
a. "The apple" = Object (Receives the action)
b. "is eaten" = Action (past participle)
c. "by the boy." = Subject (Performs the action)
Example of Active Sentence using a subject and an object:
"My mom called my sister."
- or -
"She called her."
1. "My dad cooked dinner for my brother and me.
2. My dad and me cooked dinner for my brother.
Read the following sentences. In which of the following active sentences in the word "I" used correctly?
1. My dad played basketball with my brother and I.
2. My brother and I played basketball with our dad.
ex. Active: Diane eats pizza.
s v o
ex. Passive: The pizza is eaten by Diane.
When do we use passive voice?
1. The subject is unknown.

2. The subject is irrelevant.

3. You want to be vague about who is responsible.

4. You are talking about a general truth.

5. You want to emphasize the person or thing acted upon.
Ex. The cave paintings of Lascaux were made in the Upper Stone Age.
Ex. An experimental solar plant will be built in the Australian desert.
Ex. Mistakes were made.
Ex. Rules are made to be broken.
Ex. Insulin was first discovered in 1921 by researchers at the University of Toronto. It is still the only treatment available for diabetes.
- Both Othello and Iago desire Desdemona. She is courted. [Who courts Desdemona? Othello? Iago? Both of them?]
- Research has been done to discredit this theory. [Who did the research? You? Your professor? Another author?]
- The telephone was invented in the nineteenth century. [I couldn't find out who invented the telephone!]
- Since the car was being driven by Michael at the time of the accident, the damages should be paid for by him.
Change the following sentences from
active to passive:
Active: Many people speak English.

Active: Tom wrote a book.

Active: The government raised taxes.
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