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Difference Between Active and Passive Voice

Active Vs Passive Voice

English is a very complex language for there are a lot of things to be mastered before you’ll know how to use the language inside and out. Understanding the definitions, tenses, sentence structures, sentence parts, and figures of speech is not enough. You also need to know how to use proper voicing of English sentences most especially in reading and writing.

In this regard, there are two types of voices. One is called active and the other is passive voice. The former is called active because the subject of the sentence is the ones doing the actual action. This can best be exemplified in the sentence, ‘He loves you!’ He is the subject, loves is the action, and you is the object. On the contrary, passive voicing is different because the original roles of the object and the subject are interchanged but without changing the actual meaning of the sentence. In the same sentence, when you are going to convert it into passive voice then it will sound like ‘You are loved by him!’ In this case, the previous object of the sentence or the target of the action (you) has been promoted to become the subject of the entire sentence. There is no change in meaning because the word ‘you’ is still the recipient of the ‘love.’ Changing the said sentence from active to passive form is simply shifting the focus from the original subject (he) towards the original object (you).

Passive voice is often perceived as an awkward way of structuring sentences. At times, it may even sound or look incorrect but in fact it really isn’t. Similarly, passive voice can leave out the original doer of the action (the original subject) like in the sentence ‘You are loved!’ The fact is you are loved but the one who loves (the original subject) is not stated in the sentence. This sentence notation is frequently used by politicians to hide the doer of the action as in many controversial sentences like ‘people were killed’ or ‘soldiers were shot.’

In the same light, there are still some occasions where passive voice is preferred as in the case of fiction or novel writing wherein the original subject is usually hidden so that the reader won’t know immediately who committed the action. Also, if the author wants the original object of the sentence to be highlighted more in the novel then sentences can best be written as in the case of ‘the gold was hidden.’ This writing style gives more excitement and suspicion to the story rather than directly saying ‘someone hid the gold.’

Lastly, it is also very noticeable that passive sentence forms have the word ‘by.’ This makes the sentence quite wordy or sometimes makes the meaning quite obscure.

1. Passive voice is lengthier than active voiced sentences.
2. Passive voice has a more obscure meaning and is more awkward sounding than active voice.
3. Passive voice is noticeable when the sentence has the word ‘by’ followed by the original doer (subject) of the action.


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3 Comments

  1. Kindly change the below sentence in passive voice

    Do you know him?

    Kindly fill in the blanks with correct words to complete the proverb

    1) A ___________ in time saves nine

    2) Cut your __________________ according to your cloth.

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