Active vs. Passive Voice: How to Use in a Sentence

Active voice makes writing clear and powerful for the person doing the action, while passive voice is used when the subject receives the action. Let’s learn more about active versus passive voice.

By:Nancy Oliver

Published on : 2024-04-25, Last-Update: 25-04-24

Reviewed by: Amanda Montell

Table of Contents

Active and passive voice are important for writing sentences, paragraphs, and articles that are easy to read. Fixing them isn't too hard, but good grammar matters to a lot of people.

Statistics show that 94% of people in the US and 86% of people from other countries pay attention to grammar.

This guide will show you:

  • What active and passive voice are.
  • What the major differences are.
  • Why it's important to use them in a sentence.

Whether you're a student, a professional, or just want to get better at writing, learning active vs. passive voice will make it easier for you to share your ideas. Let's get started and make your writing more powerful.

Active vs. Passive Voice

In English, you can write sentences in two ways: active or passive voice. The big difference is who gets the focus, the subject or the object. To understand this better, try changing or paraphrasing sentences around. See if the subject is doing the action or if something is happening to the subject.

1. Active Voice

In active voice sentences, the subject performs the action expressed by the verb. The sentence follows the subject-verb-object pattern, making it clear who or what is doing the action. If you need help rewording or rephrasing sentences, you can use a reword generator tool. This tool paraphrases existing sentences into more meaningful sentences for the better understanding of the reader.


  • The student wrote the essay. (Subject = the student, Verb = wrote, Object = the essay)
  • The chef prepared the meal. (Subject = the chef, Verb = prepared, Object = the meal)
  • The team won the championship. (Subject = the team, Verb = won, Object = the championship)

2. Passive Voice

In passive voice sentences, the verb affects the subject. The sentence follows the object-verb-subject pattern. The object of the action comes first, followed by the verb in passive form, and then the subject.


  • The essay was written by the student. (Object = the essay, verb = was written, subject = the student)
  • The meal was prepared by the chef. (Object = the meal, verb = was prepared, subject = the chef)
  • The championship was won by the team. (Object = the championship, verb = was won, subject = the team)

Here's the best video clip that animatedly explains the differences between active and passive voice when writing sentences. So let’s take a look at this video clip for active versus passive voice.

How to Identify active voice in a sentence

To identify an active voice, look for a sentence where the subject is doing the action. For easier understanding, you can rephrase the sentence effectively to make the subject the one doing the action.

For example:

  • "The student wrote the essay" is an active voice because the subject "the student" is performing the action "wrote" on the object "the essay." 
  • "They solved the puzzle," In this sentence, the subject "they" is clearly performing the action "solved" on the object "the puzzle." If the subject is doing the action, it's active voice.

Tips for writing sentence is an active voice

Active voice sentences are direct, straightforward, and emphasize the performer of the action. By using active voice, you can make your writing more impactful, easier to understand, and more engaging for the reader.

Some of the most relevant tips are:

  • Identify the subject, verb, and object in your sentences.
  • Make sure the subject is the one doing the action.
  • Reword sentences to see if the subject is performing the action or being acted upon.
  • Choose strong, active words instead of weak ones.
  • Try not to use "is," "are," "was," "were," and similar words with past actions.
  • Rearrange sentences to follow the subject-verb-object pattern.
  • Be careful with phrases like "by him/her" or "by the company"; they might mean passive voice.
  • Read your writing aloud to catch passive sentences.
  • Use active voice as much as you can, unless you really need passive voice for something specific.

You may also read: Types of Paraphrasing

How to write active voice sentences in different writing styles

When writing in different styles, it's important to use active voice sentences. Active voice makes your writing clear, direct, and easy to understand.


1. Academic writing

In academic writing, using the active voice helps explain ideas clearly. Passive voice can make texts sound impersonal.

  • Active: "The researchers conducted the experiment."
  • Passive: "The experiment was conducted by the researchers."

Using active voice in academic writing makes the explanation more direct and clearer about who did what.

2. Creative writing

In creative writing like novels or stories, active voice makes the narration more engaging. The reader sees the character's actions directly.

  • Active: "Lily opened the ancient book, feeling the pages crinkle under her fingers."
  • Passive: "The ancient book was opened by Lily, with the pages crinkling under her fingers."

The active voice here allows the reader to experience Lily's actions and thoughts.

3. Business/Technical writing

In business or technical writing, an active voice is preferred for directness and avoiding confusion.

  • Active: "Our team implemented the new software system last month."
  • Passive: "The new software system was implemented by our team last month."

Active voice is more concise and emphasizes the roles and responsibilities clearly in business communication.

How to identify passive voice in a sentence

Identifying passive voice in a sentence is easy. The subject is acted upon by the verb. Look for a form of the verb "to be" (like am, is, are, was, were) followed by the past participle, which often ends in -ed.

For example:

In the sentence "The book was read by Mary," the book is the subject. But it is not doing the action of reading. Instead, Mary is doing the reading. This is how you spot passive voice. In active voice, it would be "Mary read the book," showing Mary as the one doing the action.

Using passive voice isn’t wrong, but it’s good to know when and how to use it to make your writing clear.

How to use passive voice in a sentence

To use passive voice well, focus on the action more than who is doing it, especially when you don't know who did it. Here are some tips:

1. When you don't know who did something

Use passive voice if you're unsure who is behind an action. For example, you can say, "A mistake was made in the calculation." This doesn’t point out who made the mistake.

2. To highlight the action

If the action is more important than who did it, use passive voice. For example, "The law was passed by the legislature" puts the focus on the law being passed.

3. In formal writing

Passive voice is often used in scientific or formal texts because it sounds more objective. For instance, "The experiment was conducted at room temperature" focuses on the experiment, not the experimenter.

Remember, passive voice is useful in certain situations, but it can make sentences less direct. Use it when it really helps your writing.

Active vs passive voice: The major difference between them


Active Voice

Passive Voice


Subject performs the action.

Action happens to the subject.

Linking Verb

Does not require a linking verb.

Uses a linking verb followed by the past participle.


It focuses on the doer of the action.

Useful when the doer is unknown.


Direct, clear, and strong.

Indirect, weaker, and subtler.


"I decorated the hall."

"The hall was decorated by me."

This table explains the key differences between active and passive voice sentences and helps you fix your writing mistakes for Google E-E-A-T content.

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Final Remarks

This guide helps you understand the difference between active and passive voice, making your writing clearer and more engaging.

By mastering these concepts, you'll communicate your ideas more effectively, whether you're writing for school, work, or fun. So enhance your grammar skills and bring clarity to your writing.

Frequently Asked Questions’s

What is the quickest way to determine if a sentence is in active or passive voice?

Look at the verb and the subject. If the subject is doing the action, it's an active voice. If the subject is receiving the action, it's a passive voice.

When should I use passive voice instead of active voice?

Use passive voice when the doer of the action is unknown, irrelevant, or you want to emphasize the action over the doer.

Can switching from passive to active voice change the impact of my sentence?

Yes, using active voice usually makes your sentences more direct and dynamic, which can be more impactful.

Is it incorrect to use passive voice in my writing?

No, passive voice is not incorrect, but it’s often less engaging and harder to read than active voice. Use it carefully.

How can I revise a passive sentence to make it active?

Identify who or what is performing the action and make them the subject of the sentence.

For example:

Changing of the sentence "The ball was thrown by John" to 

"John threw the ball."