Description: The article below is mainly designed to concentrate on the grammar topic which has the key points of active vs passive voice. We can see a quick tutorial related to grammar teaching, showing us the differences between active and passive voice.
This is Tucker with a quick tutorial on the difference between active and passive voice, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this, as we wrap our research papers and one of the things that’s important to remember is writing an active voice tends to make your writing feel clearer, more crisp and more powerful.
So what I’m trying to get you to do is to understand the difference, so you can make sure that when you’re writing, you are writing in that active strong voice, so what’s the difference active voice which means that the subject of the sentence is doing the action.
So the first thing you have to do is when trying to decide if a sentence is written an active or passive voice is to identify the subject, what is the person, place or thing that is doing the action in the sentence or is being something in the sentence.
So for example, in this sentence below, Tucker loves coffee, the subject of the sentence is Tucker and what is Tucker doing? Loving coffee, Tucker loves coffee, so in this sentence, the subject is doing the action, the subject is loving coffee, now passive voice means that the subject of the sentence is receiving the action.
So instead of doing the action, they’re receiving the action, so that exact sentence rewritten in passive voice would read coffee is loved by Tucker, so here we have coffee shifted almost into this subject position and Tucker is receiving the action, coffee is loved by Tucker instead of Tucker is loving coffee now.
The word buy is one, you want to keep your eyes open, so a lot of times in passive voice, you’ll see the word buy, so that should be a little bit of a red flag potentially you are writing in passive voice, so we want to flip this around and have it read the sentence on the previous slide, tucker loves coffee, even the difference between those two sentences, it should sound more direct, clearer, tucker loves coffee as opposed to coffee is loved by tucker which is a little bit more wordy, a little bit unclear and convoluted.
You should know that coffee becomes a subject, but it moves even though it’s moved into the subject position, it isn’t doing anything, coffee is not doing any action, so even though the subject appears to be coffee, we know this is written in passive voice, because the coffee itself isn’t doing anything, so keep in mind that the subject is the person, place or thing that does or is something in a sentence and that subject should be doing whatever the action is right, it should be doing whatever the verb in the sentence is.
If you’re thinking about it, I am realizing I write in passive voice, I need to switch it to active, you need to be like I said keep an eye open for clues and one clue is the word buy which often appears in sentences that are written in passive voice.
So another example of a passive voice, a sentence written in passive voice is the girl was attacked by the dog now, the girl is in the subject position, but the girl didn’t do anything, she was the victim, it was the dog who is attacked, so we need to flip the sentence around and say the dog attacked the girl.
If you compare these two sentences, the second one is clean, it’s clear, it’s crisp, it’s much stronger than the first sentence which was written in passive voice, a couple of more examples, so a song was written by a talented young actress, the song is in the subject position, but the song isn’t doing anything, the young actress was the one who wrote the song, so she’s our subject, so we have to flip the sentence again and say the talented young actress wrote the song that would be active voice.
Last example, the homework had been done by only half the class, now the homework, writing homework is sitting in subject position, but the homework didn’t do anything, it is half of the class that is our real subject, because it is only half of the class that had done the homework or completed the homework.
So we got to flip it and make half of the class our subject, so an active voice, this would read only half the class did the homework, so think about what my subject is, what is doing the action in the sentence and is the sentence written so that it’s clear, the subject is doing that action or has it been written so that the subject is receiving the action.
So you want your subject to be active in the sentence, you don’t want the subject to be passive, so keep those things in mind, as you approach practicing identifying active and passive voice as well as starting to look critically at your own writing to make sure you’re writing in active voice.