When it comes to writing, the choice between active voice and passive voice can significantly impact the clarity and impact of your message. Understanding the distinction between these two voices and knowing how to use them effectively can elevate your writing to new heights. Active voice lends strength and directness to your sentences, while passive voice can be useful in specific contexts. It can immensely help writers to be proficient at both. Knowledge of both voices can turn your pen into a double-edged sword, and unlike the proverbial sense, this sword helps you get the best of both worlds instead of hurting you.

In this article, we will lift the veil on the fundamental difference between the two voices, how they impact your writing for better or worse, and the appropriate pieces of content you can use them with.
\While you experience the nostalgia of your high school grammar lessons, let’s explore valuable tips and strategies for utilizing active and passive voice to enhance the quality of your writing. Whether you are a student, a professional, or an aspiring writer, mastering the art of using active and passive voice will undoubtedly sharpen your communication skills and engage your readers more effectively.

What Is Active Voice?

A sentence is said to be in active voice when the subject carries out the action expressed by the verb. It places emphasis on the doer of the action and provides a clear and direct way of conveying information. In active voice sentences, the subject is typically placed at the beginning of the sentence, followed by the verb and then the object.

The importance of an active voice in writing cannot be overstated. Active voice brings clarity, urgency, and strength to your sentences and primes them for engagement and impact. Active voice helps to streamline your writing by eliminating unnecessary words and creating a more direct connection between the subject and the action. By using active voice, you take ownership of your statements and provide a sense of responsibility to them.
Consider the following examples to understand the impact of active voice:

Passive Voice: The cake was eaten by Sarah.

Active Voice: Sarah ate the cake.

In the passive voice example, the emphasis is on the cake being eaten, and the doer of the action (Sarah) is relegated to the end of the sentence. Using an active voice shifts the focus to Sarah as the one performing the action, creating a more engaging sentence.

Passive Voice: A few errors were committed.

Active Voice: We committed a few errors.

The passive voice example is vague and avoids mentioning who was responsible for the errors. In the active voice version, the responsibility is claimed by using “we,” making the sentence more accountable and transparent.

Why Should You Incorporate Active Voice In Your Content?

Active voice not only improves the clarity of your writing but also helps to maintain a strong and convincing tone. It is particularly effective in persuasive writing, storytelling, and when you want to highlight cause-and-effect relationships. By choosing active voice, you can create sentences that are direct, concise, and engaging, capturing the reader’s attention and conveying your message with greater impact.

When And How Should You Include an Active Voice In Your Write Ups?

Including active voice in your write-ups is highly recommended in various contexts and can significantly enhance the quality of your writing. Here are some situations where you should consider using active voice:

Writing for Clarity: Active voice promotes clarity by clearly identifying the subject and the action. It eliminates ambiguity and ensures that the reader understands who is doing what. This is particularly important when explaining processes, providing instructions, or presenting straightforward information.

Example: “The chef chops the vegetables finely.”

Engaging the Reader: Active voice energizes your writing by creating a sense of urgency. It creates a more engaging experience by grabbing the reader’s attention. This is beneficial for capturing interest in storytelling, personal narratives, or any content where you want to create a strong connection between the reader and the subject.

Example: “As the sun dipped below the horizon, the waves crashed against the shore.”

Persuasive Writing: Active voice is powerful in persuasive writing as it presents a strong, confident tone and highlights your arguments by making them more convincing and assertive.

Example: “Our product enhances productivity by reducing processing time.”

Descriptive Writing: Active voice can breathe life into your descriptions, making them vivid and dynamic. It helps in creating a sense of action and movement, immersing the reader in the scene.

Example: “The dancers twirled gracefully across the stage, mesmerizing the audience.”

Journalism and News Writing: Active voice is preferred in journalism as it emphasizes the most critical information and ensures the news is presented in a concise and impactful manner. It highlights the key actors and actions in the story and makes your writing more compelling.

Example: “The government announced new measures to combat climate change.”

As you can see, active voice is beneficial in various content pieces, including informative articles, persuasive essays, storytelling, journalism, and descriptive writing. It adds clarity, engagement, and conviction to your writing, effectively conveying your message and captivating your readers. By using active voice appropriately, you can elevate the impact and quality of your write-ups.

What Is Passive Voice?

A sentence is said to be in the passive voice when the subject receives the action rather than performing it. In passive voice constructions, the subject becomes the receiver of the action or the target of the verb. The focus is on the object or outcome of the action rather than the person performing the action.

The structure of passive voice typically follows this pattern: object + auxiliary verb (such as “is,” “was,” or “has been”) + past participle of the main verb + by + agent (optional).

For example, “The cake was eaten by Sarah” is a passive-voice sentence. Here, the object (cake) is receiving the action (was eaten), and the agent (Sarah) is mentioned at the end of the sentence.

Also, the auxiliary verb “was” indicates that the action happened in the past.

Why Should You Incorporate Passive Voice In Your Content?

Using passive voice enables the focus to be on the action rather than the doer. This can be especially beneficial when emphasizing product or software features and how they address issues. By avoiding mentioning the agent, passive voice is helpful when the subject is unknown or irrelevant. Passive voice is ideal for making general statements that apply to multiple contexts and audiences. It also helps in maintaining objectivity and neutrality in your content. When used appropriately, passive voice can create a formal and professional tone in your writing.

When And How Should You Include Passive Voice In Your Write Ups?

Passive voice is often criticized as it can make sentences long and vague, making them less clear and engaging than active voice sentences. Additionally, passive voice can create an impersonal tone by avoiding mentioning who performed the action. However, there are situations where passive voice is appropriate and beneficial for conveying a certain message.

Now, let’s explore the importance of passive voice in writing and understand its use and impact through examples:

Shifting Focus: Passive voice allows writers to shift the focus from the doer of the action to the object or the result of the action. This can be useful when the doer is unknown or unimportant or when the object carries more significance.

Example: “The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci.”

Here, the focus is naturally pulled towards the painting rather than on Leonardo da Vinci.

Politeness and Objectivity: Passive voice can be used to maintain a neutral and objective tone, particularly in formal or academic writing. It can help writers avoid explicitly assigning blame or responsibility.

Example: “Mistakes were made in the report.”

This sentence does not directly attribute the mistakes to anyone, maintaining a more neutral tone.

Emphasizing Results: When we use passive voice, we can emphasize the result or outcome of an action instead of the person who did it. This technique is useful when highlighting the specific event’s consequences or significance.

Example: “The bridge was destroyed by the powerful earthquake.”
Here, the focus is on the destruction caused by the earthquake rather than on who caused it.

Writing Style Variation: The occasional use of passive voice can add variety to your writing and break the monotony of always using active voice. It can create a different rhythm and flow in your sentences.

Example: “The decision was made after careful consideration.”
This sentence uses passive voice to convey a sense of formality and deliberation.

Technical Writing and Scientific Reports: Passive voice is commonly employed in technical and scientific writing, especially when describing procedures, experiments, or observations. It helps to maintain an objective tone and focus on the action or the result.

Example: “The samples were analyzed using a spectrophotometer.” This sentence focuses on the analysis process rather than the person performing it.

While using passive voice in some instances is beneficial, you must use it cautiously. Overusing passive voice can lead to wordy and indirect writing, which may diminish your sentences’ impact and clarity. It is crucial to consider the context, purpose, and desired effect of your writing when deciding whether to use active or passive voice.

To Active Or To Passive, That Is The Question, My Friend!

So, the next time you place your fingers on the keyboard to write something important, you won’t be rendered passive with the voices in your head doubting every sentence you write. Remember that it is never Active vs. Passive but a healthy mix of both. Like two contrasting colors, they help you paint the perfect picture with your words, making every piece of content you create a masterpiece!