myQBook Grammar Concept



Active and Passive voice

Voice is an essential part of writing. In grammar, voice shows whether the subject is performing an action (active voice) or receiving an action (passive voice). Note that voice has a different definition in grammar than it does in regular English. Both of these types are important because they are used to emphasize different parts of a sentence. Although some people think only active voice is useful, both types of grammatical voice serve important purposes in writing.

In a sentence written in active voice, the subject performs the action of the verb. This type of voice is called active because the subject is active and is performing the action specified by the verb. This is the more common type of voice. Consider the following example:

A cheering crowd of people pushed Melanie towards the front of the auditorium.

Here, the subject, “crowd”, is performing the action of the verb, “pushed.” This sentence is in active voice as the subject is performing an action. Active voice sentences emphasize the performer of the action (crowd of people).

Passive voice is the other way around. In passive voice, the subject is receiving the action of the verb. This voice is passive because the subject is passive, or inactive, while the action is being done to the subject. For example:

Melanie was pushed toward the front of the auditorium by a cheering crowd of people.

Here, the subject, “Melanie”, is receiving the action of being pushed. This sentence uses passive voice because the subject is receiving the action of the verb. Melanie is inactive; she is being pushed, not moving herself. Passive voice sentences emphasize the receiver of the action (Melanie).

For most regular sentences, active voice is the best choice to use because it is stronger than passive voice. However, passive voice is in our language for a reason. There are some good uses for passive voice. They are:

·         When the performer of the action does not need to be known or is not known. For example:

All work has been canceled for the day!

The gates were knocked down as the crowd rushed toward the building.

In the first example, it is not important for the audience to know who canceled the work; therefore, it is in passive voice.

In the second example, the specific performer is not known. The gates were knocked down by one or more people, but the writer does not know who they were. Therefore, passive voice is used.

For more uses of the passive voice, see the next level grade concepts.

For information on personal and impersonal passive voice, see the next level grade concepts.

 





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