Difference Between Active Voice and Passive Voice

Active voice injects life into your writing, propelling the subject into action and engaging your readers with a dynamic narrative. In contrast, passive voice can feel somewhat lethargic, placing emphasis on the recipient of the action rather than the doer. Choosing between them is akin to selecting the right actor for your story – active voice stars in a thrilling performance, while passive voice takes a backseat in the supporting role, influencing the mood and tone of your literary masterpiece.

Active Voice vs Passive Voice 1

Comparison Chart

FeatureActive VoicePassive Voice
SubjectPerforms the actionReceives the action
FocusEmphasizes the doer of the actionEmphasizes the action itself or the object receiving the action
Sentence StructureSubject + Verb + Object (Optional)Object + Helping Verb (“be”) + Past Participle Verb + (by + Agent) (Optional)
StrengthGenerally clearer, more concise, and emphasizes the actorCan be useful for de-emphasizing the agent or creating suspense
Examples (Present Simple)The child kicks the ball.The ball is kicked by the child.
Examples (Past Simple)They painted the house.The house was painted by them.
Examples (Future Simple)We will write a report.A report will be written by us.
Suitability– Formal and informal writing – When the doer of the action is clear or important– Formal writing – When the doer of the action is unknown, unimportant, or needs to be de-emphasized – To create a sense of mystery or suspense

What is Active Voice?

Active voice is a grammatical construction in which the subject of a sentence performs the action expressed by the verb. This form of expression is characterized by clarity, directness, and a more engaging tone.

Active Voice

Structure of Active Voice

In active voice, the structure of a sentence follows a straightforward pattern: subject, verb, and object. The subject is the doer of the action, the verb represents the action itself, and the object is the recipient of the action. For example, in the sentence “The cat chased the mouse,” “the cat” is the subject, “chased” is the verb, and “the mouse” is the object.

Benefits of Active Voice

  1. Clarity and Directness: Active voice provides clarity by clearly identifying the doer of the action. This straightforward structure helps readers understand the message with ease. For instance, “The team completed the project” is more direct than “The project was completed by the team.”
  2. Engagement: Active voice creates a more engaging and dynamic tone, making the writing more compelling. It adds energy to the sentence, capturing the reader’s attention and maintaining their interest. Active voice is particularly effective in storytelling and persuasive writing.
  3. Conciseness: Active voice results in more concise sentences. It eliminates unnecessary words and allows for a more efficient communication of ideas. This can be especially valuable in professional and academic writing where brevity is preferred.

Examples of Active Voice

  1. Passive: “The book was read by the student.” Active: “The student read the book.”
  2. Passive: “A decision will be made by the committee.” Active: “The committee will make a decision.”
  3. Passive: “The report was written by the manager.” Active: “The manager wrote the report.”

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Ambiguity: Using passive voice can sometimes lead to ambiguity regarding the doer of the action. Active voice helps eliminate this uncertainty by clearly identifying the subject.
  2. Wordiness: Passive constructions require more words than their active counterparts, leading to wordy and less impactful sentences. Choosing active voice contributes to concise and effective writing.

What is Passive Voice?

Passive voice is a grammatical construction where the subject of the sentence receives the action rather than performing it. In passive voice, the emphasis is on the action or the receiver of the action, rather than the doer. The structure of a passive voice sentence includes a form of the verb “to be” and the past participle of the main verb.

Passive Voice

Forming Passive Voice

To form a passive voice sentence, start with a subject, add a form of the verb “to be” (am, is, are, was, were, has been, have been, had been, will be, will have been), and conclude with the past participle of the main verb. For example:

  • Active Voice: The cat chased the mouse.
  • Passive Voice: The mouse was chased by the cat.

When to Use Passive Voice

1. Emphasis on the Action

Passive voice is used when the action itself is more important than the doer. This can be useful in situations where the doer is unknown, irrelevant, or needs to be de-emphasized.

Example: The Mona Lisa was painted in the 16th century.

2. Formal Writing

Passive voice is preferred in formal writing, such as academic papers and official documents, to maintain an objective and impersonal tone.

Example: The results of the experiment were analyzed thoroughly.

3. Vague Doer

When the doer of the action is unknown or not important to the message, passive voice can be employed.

Example: The car was stolen last night.

4. Sequential Actions

Passive voice can be used to describe a series of actions where the emphasis is on the actions themselves rather than the doers.

Example: The ingredients are mixed, and the batter is poured into the pan.

Common Mistakes and Considerations

1. Overuse

While passive voice has its place, overusing it can lead to unclear and awkward sentences. Strive for a balance between passive and active constructions.

2. Ambiguity

Passive voice can sometimes introduce ambiguity regarding who is performing the action. Carefully consider whether clarity might be compromised.

Difference Between Active Voice and Passive Voice

Active Voice:

  • The subject performs the action directly.
  • It is more straightforward and concise.
  • The structure is Subject-Verb-Object (SVO).
  • It emphasizes the doer of the action.
  • Often used in writing that requires clarity and directness.
  • Common in scientific and technical writing.

Passive Voice:

  • The action is performed on the subject.
  • The structure is Object-Verb-Subject (OVS) or Object-Verb.
  • It may be less direct and more wordy than active voice.
  • The doer of the action may be omitted or placed at the end of the sentence.
  • Useful when the focus is on the receiver of the action rather than the doer.
  • Frequently found in formal or academic writing.
  • Can be misused if the doer of the action is unclear or should be emphasized.


  • Active voice is preferred for clarity and direct communication.
  • Passive voice can be appropriate in specific contexts, such as scientific reports or when the doer of the action is unknown or less important.
  • Both styles can coexist within a piece of writing, depending on the intended emphasis.
  • Writers should choose voice based on the message, audience, and context.
  • Effective communication may involve a balance between active and passive constructions.