The active voice is used when the subject of the sentence does something. The passive voice is used when the subject is acted upon. For example, in the active voice, a sentence might read “the boss yells.” For the passive voice, add the past participle form of the verb to the appropriate form of the verb to be, for example: The cake is baked (was baked, has been baked, may be baked, will be baked).”
In formal writing, avoid reliance on the passive voice. It is a weak voice, used mainly in narrative writing when the subject of the sentence or performer of the action is not the focus of attention. For example: “The account was audited.”
The use of the passive is seen in the following:
The campaign has a new strategy, which will be rolled out next week.
Where directness is needed, try the active voice first although the passive voice may be appropriate sometimes to maintain parallelism.
Weak: His laziness showed that motivation was lacking in him.
Better: His laziness showed that he lacked motivation.
Weak: All the money that was contributed by us to the charity was squandered.
Better: All the money we contributed to the charity was squandered.
It’s always best to avoid a sudden shift from active to passive voice:
Poor: We went to the theater, where a great play was seen.
Better: We went to the theater, where we saw a great play.
Poor: Nutritious food is expensive, but great health benefits are rewarded to us.
Better: Nutritious food is expensive, but it rewards us with great health benefits.
Copyright © 2012 Thomas Fasano. Your English Class™ trademark is the property of Thomas Fasano.