What are active voice and passive voice?

Active and passive voice refer to the perspective from which you write.

In the active voice, the perspective is of the subject, that is the ‘performer of the action,’ in the sentence. In the passive voice, the perspective is of the object, that is the ‘receiver of the action,’ in the sentence.

Using the active voice emphasizes the subject and the ownership of the action. Using the passive voice creates an objective tone of voice, because the ‘performer of the action’ might not exist in a sentence in the passive voice.

What do active voice and passive voice look like?

The following are examples of active and passive voice in English.

Active voice

Mary Jane created this document. 
I conducted an experiment.

Passive voice

This document was created by Mary Jane. 
This document was created.
An experiment was conducted by me.
An experiment was conducted.

Why should I use active voice?

Academic writers prefer using active voice in their writing because it shows a clear relationship of ownership of the action. At the same time, sentences in the active voice are usually shorter and help the writer write more concisely.

Therefore, you should use the active voice whenever possible. However, you may also use the passive voice in the following situations:

  1. When the agent of the action is unimportant, unknown or really obvious to the reader. For example:

    Over 10.000 patients are diagnosed with a heart condition in the United Kingdom.

  2. When the object or action itself is more important than the agent performing the action. For example:

    The results were assessed using the unique VocalFeedback ® method.
  3. When the recipient of the action is the topic of the sentence. For example:

    Heart condition patients are operated upon when having a strong both mental and physical health.

Automated Feedback can identify the use of passive voice and help you utilise active voice correctly as much as possible.

Did this answer your question?