What Passive Voice Is And When To Use It

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What Passive Voice Is and When to Use It? Understanding the difference between active and passive voice can be a bit confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really quite simple. Passive voice is a form of sentence structure where the subject receiving an action has little to no agency in that action; therefore, the object of the sentence becomes the focus.

Think of it this way: active sentences place importance on who is doing something (the subject), while passive sentences place importance on what something is being done to (the object). It’s important to note that passive voice isn’t always wrong or ungrammatical — in fact, knowing when and how to use passive voice effectively can be extremely beneficial for any writer.

What Passive Voice Is and When to Use It

Understanding Passive Voice

Understanding passive voice can help make your writing concise and clear. Through the use of it, you create phrases that describe an action without specifying the doer, or subject, of a sentence. It helps keep sentences short by removing unnecessary information while still conveying the same meaning.

Learning to identify and use the passive voice effectively will make your writing easier to read and understand. When used effectively, it can get rid of any awkward phrasing in a sentence and make reading less cumbersome. With enough practice, you’ll be able to spot and craft sentences using a passive voice like an expert!

Definition of Passive Voice

Passive voice is a grammatical construction in which the subject of a sentence receives an action or is affected by it, rather than being the actor that performs it. This means that in a passive sentence, the object of the sentence is typically mentioned first and the actor is either omitted entirely or included at the end with a preposition such as “by”.

Not only does this provide variety to your writing—it can also help you emphasize certain elements of your sentences for more powerful communication. Understanding and utilizing passive voice can be immensely valuable for anyone looking to hone their language skills and become an expert communicator!

Examples of Passive Voice

When writing, it’s important to be aware of the passive voice structure. Unlike the active voice, this approach is less direct and puts more emphasis on the object of the sentence than on its subject. Common examples of passive voice include phrases such as “the ball was thrown by her” or “the window was opened by John.” In these cases, it is the receiver (her or John) instead of the doer (ball or window) that’s put in focus.

Similarly, using introductory words like It is thought or It has been suggested can shift a sentence into a passive form too. The key to making productive use of passive versus active language lies in understanding what you want your writing to communicate and when one structure works better than another.

Parts of Speech Used in Passive Voice

Passive voice is a type of grammatical construction that can be used to add a sense of mystery or importance to a sentence. It also has the benefits of helping to reduce wordiness and make statements sound more formal or authoritative. To craft a sentence in passive voice, use auxiliary verbs like “be” or “been” followed by an appropriate past participle (which will depend on the main verb).

For example:

An active phrase such as “They sold the house” could become “The house was sold” in the passive voice. Keep in mind that only transitive verbs can be expressed in passive voice because these are the only verbs with an underlying object receiving the action. With practice, you’ll master both active and passive voices for every part of speech!

Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Passive Voice

When it comes to writing, the debate over active vs passive voice can be intense. For many, using the passive voice is a passionate no-no. However, as with most things in life, there are both advantages and disadvantages to using passive voice in your writing. On one hand, it can help make your writing more precise and precise by eliminating unnecessary words. On the other hand, using too much of it can make your writing sound weak and clunky.

To be effective, you need to strike a balance between the two when deciding which sentence structure to go with. Ultimately, understanding when and how to use active or passive voice – or even mix them – can take practice, but will ultimately elevate your writing to a whole new level.

When to Use Active vs. Passive Voice

Deciding when to use active or passive voice can initially feel confusing, but once you gain some familiarity with the grammatical choices, it becomes an easy way to communicate your message more effectively. Active voice occurs when a sentence’s subject is “doing” the action, while passive voice occurs when the object of a verb is being acted upon by its subject.

For everyday writing such as emails or blog posts, an active voice can lend your words more energy and create impact. When writing a formal document such as a report, both active and passive voices may be used – just try to keep them balanced so your writing doesn’t become monotonous. Knowing when to choose between an active or passive structure can help you take control of how your audience receives the message.

Tips for Determining Whether to Use Active or Passive voice

Deciding when to use active or passive voice can be a tricky task. A great way to start is by understanding the difference between the two. In active voice, the subject of the sentence acts, such as “The dog chased the cat.” This sentence has a direct impact and shows strong action. However, in passive voice, the subject is acted upon instead of acting, for example, “The cat was chased by the dog.”

Regardless of which one you decide to use, make sure that it still effectively conveys your meaning. Additionally, passive voice should only be used sparingly as it tends to sound more distant and weak than active voice. When determining which one to choose keep these tips in mind and you will be able to craft engaging prose with ease.

Grammar Rules for Using Passive Voice Properly

Learning proper grammar rules for using passive voice is essential to becoming an effective communicator. The key to mastering the use of passive voice lies in understanding when it’s appropriate and how to construct sentences utilizing this structure. When using passive voice, the focus shifts away from the subject and towards the action that is being performed. This may be beneficial for certain scenarios, such as a project overview where the focus should be on what is being done rather than who is doing it.

Although there are nuances regarding conjugations, understanding how to form sentences in passive voice comes down to including a form of “to be” in conjunction with a past participle of the verb that is being used. With practice and mastery of these basics, you’ll soon find yourself employing this style effectively in your writing!

Tense Agreement With Subject and Verb in a Sentence

Knowing when to use the correct verb tense can be one of the trickiest parts of mastering good grammar. Whenever writing a sentence, it’s important to ensure that the subject and verb agree in both number and time. To make sure you’ve got them aligned, take a look at the primary subject of your sentence and identify what verb tense is being used for it.

Once you know that, all of the other verbs should also be in that same tense. This helps you create a more consistent writing style and keeps your readers from becoming confused. When you practice creating sentences with the proper tense agreement, soon enough it will become second nature!

Constructing a Sentence with an Object and a Verb

Creating a sentence with an object and a verb is a fundamental part of mastering grammar. Sentences give structure and shape to our thoughts, allowing us to create full, meaningful sentences. The verb is the backbone of the sentence – it indicates action, being, or state of being. It helps to illustrate what the object does within the context of the sentence.

For example:

Using the words ‘The boy’ as an object and ‘ran’ as a verb paints a picture of motion. The combination of these two elements also determines whether or not the sentence is complete; if either is missing from a sentence, then it isn’t considered proper grammar and will certainly not get you far in your writing endeavors!

Avoiding Unclear Subjects in Passive Voice Sentences

Not being clear about the subject of passive voice sentences can lead to confusion for the reader. It is important to understand the effects of using passive voice, and when it is appropriate or not. With careful consideration, you can avoid using unclear subjects in your writing and make your messages much easier to follow.

Passive sentences should have specific subjects that are relevant to the rest of the information within that sentence. This makes it easier for readers to identify who or what is acting without having to read further into an incomprehensible sentence. With practice, you can effectively decide when a clear subject is necessary to create engaging and understandable sentences.

Tips for Writing in Active vs. Passive Voice

Writing in an active voice can be a great way to make your writing more eye-catching, engaging, and direct. It allows the reader to follow along with what you’re trying to say more clearly since the message is being delivered directly from the subject. In contrast, using passive voice in your writing can often make it sound too formal or may scatter your main message amongst a string of words. It does have its place though, as sometimes weaker messages need a softer effect or emphasizing a mindset other than who is acting may be needed.

To make sure you’re nailing both forms of voice, try taking out any “to be” verbs when you draft and consider whether or not who’s acting should stay in focus for that sentence- this could help you determine whether active or passive voice might be best.

Commonly Misused Words When Writing in Passive Voice

Writing in passive voice is a tricky endeavor, as it can be easy to misplace words, leaving you with a clunky sentence. A few of the most common mistakes include using “was” instead of “were”, employing an incorrect past participle form (i.e. sat instead of seated), leaving out verbs altogether, and mixing up object, subject, and verb placements. To avoid all that confusion and ensure your writing sounds both fluent and authoritative, be sure to double check your choices and practice often.

For example, listen for yourself: does the phrase “the ball have been throwed” sound right? No, it does not! The correct version is “the ball has been thrown” – see how much smoother that sounds? So don’t be afraid to take your time before hitting the publish button; after all, skillful writing requires a few second glances!


It is important to know the basics of active vs. passive voice and how it affects your writing. Knowing when to employ each form can make you a better writer and help you avoid miscommunications through unclear sentences. So take some time to practice with both forms of voice, read over what you’ve written, and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion when you’re not sure. With enough practice, you’ll become an ace at active and passive voice!


Q: What is passive voice?

A: Passive voice is a grammatical structure that changes the focus of a sentence. In this structure, the object of an action becomes the subject instead. For example, “The ball was thrown by Sara,” is an example of passive voice because it focuses on the ball (the object) rather than Sara (the subject).

Q: When should I use passive voice?

A: Passive voice is often used when the speaker or writer wants to emphasize the object of an action. It can also be used when the identity of the subject acting is unknown or unimportant.

Q: What are the grammar rules for using passive voice correctly?

A: To construct a sentence in passive voice, the verb should be conjugated with an auxiliary verb “to be” and the past participle of the main verb. For example, “The ball was thrown” uses “was,” which is part of the auxiliary verb, and “thrown,” which is the past participle of the main verb “throw.” Additionally, it is important to note that prepositions should not be changed in a passive sentence. For example, “The ball was thrown by Sara” is correct because the preposition “by” remains intact.

Q: Are there any situations where the passive voice should be avoided?

A: Generally, passive voice should be avoided in formal writing because it can make sentences wordy and confusing. Additionally, active voice is often preferred over passive voice because it makes the subject of a sentence more clear and more direct. In some cases, using too much passive voice can even lead to confusion or inaccuracy.

Remember that passive voice can still be used in certain circumstances, such as when the focus of an action needs to be emphasized. Whenever possible, however, it is best to use active voice instead.

Q: What are some examples of passive voice?

A: Some examples of passive voice include “The ball was thrown by Sara,” “The cake was eaten by Sarah,” and “The house was built in 1820.” In each sentence, the object of the action (the ball, cake, and house) is emphasized instead of the subject (Sara and Sarah).

Q: Is there any other helpful advice I should know about passive voice?

A: When using passive voice, make sure that you are clear about who or what is acting. Additionally, be aware that passive sentences tend to sound more formal than active sentences. And, practice writing with both active and passive voice so that you can become familiar with which structure works best for your particular needs.

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