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Home » Passive vs. Active Voice: When To Use Each One

Passive vs. Active Voice: When To Use Each One


In writing, there are two common “voices.” The passive voice and the active voice. Each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks that you should be aware of as a writer.

Active voice sentences are always more precise than passive voice. Active verbs are stronger and more than passive verbs, which makes them easier to understand. In this article, you will learn the difference between passive and active voice.

What Is Voice?

Voice is the attitude and tone that a writer takes toward their subject and audience. It’s what makes a piece of writing sound like it’s coming from a real person, rather than a machine. There are two main types of voice: passive and active.

Passive Voice

In passive voice, the subject of the sentence is acted upon by the verb. For example, “The gift was given to my brother by me.” In this sentence, the subject (gift) is receiving the action of the verb (given), and the actor (me) has been removed.

Active Voice

In active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action. For example, “I gave the gift to my brother.” The subject (I) is performing the verb (gave), and the direct object (gift) is receiving the action. This is the most common voice in English.

When to Use Passive Voice

Passive voice is often seen as weaker or less direct than active voice. However, there are times when it is necessary to use passive voice. For example, if you don’t know who did something, you have to use passive voice. “The window was broken” instead of “Someone broke the window.” 

 if you want to emphasize the object rather than the subject in a sentence, passive voice can be a good choice. Consider this sentence, written in both active and passive voice:

Active: The cashier counted the money.
Passive: The money was counted by the cashier.

In passive sentences, the subject is no longer performing the action, but receiving it.

When to Use Active Voice

In general, use the active voice when the subject is doing the action. The active voice is more concise and easier to read than the passive voice. The active voice is also more direct. If you want to show that something is happening now or is an ongoing situation, use the active voice. For example, “The sun is shining.” If you want to make a general statement about something that happens regularly, use the active voice. For example, “Birds fly.”

  • All active sentences follow this basic formula: Subject + Verb + Direct Object.

The direct object of an active sentence is always the receiver of the action. It can be a person, place, or thing. It can also be a pronoun (I do) or a noun (the dog).

You can rewrite your sentence with an active voice by substituting an active verb for your original verb. For example, instead of writing “The chocolate cake was eaten by our cat,” write “Our cat ate the chocolate cake.”

Active voice makes writing more clear.

The active voice is more direct and clear. It refers to the use of the verb in its active form, rather than as a passive (referring to an action that’s been done on you). In example sentences, active voice generally flows better:

  • “I walked outside. The sun was hot. I felt tired, so I went home early.”
  • “The service worker was fired for stealing from us.”

Active voice has many advantages over passive voice when it comes to clarity and fluency. However, writing in passive can be tricky because it’s not easy for readers to understand what you’re trying to say—and if they don’t get it right away, they might not even bother reading further!

Passive vs Active Voice: Which Should you use?

The best way to choose between passive and active voice is to read your work aloud. If it sounds natural, that’s the right choice. If it sounds forced or like you’re trying too hard, that’s the wrong choice. In general, an active voice is more direct, concise, and easier to read. Passive voice can be used effectively in certain situations, but overuse of passive voice makes writing sound dull and bureaucratic.


After reading this article, I hope you have a better understanding of the difference between passive and active voice. In general, active voice is more concise and easier to read, while passive voice can be used to add emphasis or to be more polite. There are exceptions to every rule, but in general, it is best to use an active voice whenever possible.