Which voice to use: Active or Passive?


A long as we have been following the rules of grammar and tenses; we are divided upon the usage of active voice and the passive voice. Although the passive voice is often used in informal communication, it is advisable to use the active voice as much as possible and to avoid the passive voice as much as possible. The reason because a sentence written in an active voice seems more conversational and natural. Given are a few reasons why an active voice is a preferred grammatical voice. More differences will be discussed in future on this blog.

The subject must always perform an action:
The subject voice performs an action in the active voice.

For example:
Active voice sentence:
The girl is singing a song.
Here “girl” is the subject while “song” is the object. The message is clear and direct as it explicitly mentions who is doing what.

Passive Voice Sentence:
However, in the passive voice, the same sentence will become: The song is being sung by the girl. When a sentence begins with the object, the readers’ become confused as to who is performing the action as the subject, in the passive voice, appears by the end of the sentence.

Verbs must follow the subject:
In an active voice sentence, the verb appears soon after the subject.

For example:
The boy is watching television.
Here, the “boy’ is the subject while “watching” is the verb. The sentence is informing the readers that subject is doing something and the verb appears right after the subject.
Passive voice sentence:
However, when writing the same sentence in the passive voice, the sentence will become: The television is being watched by the boy. In this case, the reader’s will keep questioning what is the purpose of the television until they read that someone is watching it. Here again, the passive voice of the sentence is unclear and remains indirect in its narrative.

When writing articles, essay, write-ups or letters, it is imperative for you to write them in the active voice so the readers’ can read it in a smooth flow. Writing in active voice will also keep your writing clear and direct without creating any confusion over the subject’s action and the object’s presence.

Image Source: English Lessons with Adam – Learn English with Adam [engVid]