Active vs Passive Voice – Main Difference?

Active voice and Passive voice are some of the critical components of speech and writing. The English language can be a little complex in terms of terminology. We might apply these terms in our daily lives, but we might not know their exact meanings. They are quite common in many different languages around the world. Today we are going to look specifically at the English language versions.

Active and Passive voice can be called a part of the grammatical view in the English language. In Active voice, the subject acts on a verb or, in simple words, performs a task. On the other hand, the Passive voice refers to the situations where the subject receives the action of the verb.

Active voice and passive voice
Active voice and passive voice

In this article, we are going to cover all information about Active vs Passive voice. Learning more can help you improve your writing.

What is Voice?

English grammar can be a little confusing. We all learned the language in our early days. It might have been years since we brushed up on our grammatical knowledge. In the literature, there are five unique and different aspects of verbs.

These can also be called the properties of the verb. They are voice, tense, mood, person, and number. All of these properties are crucial when forming sentences. The voice in a sentence describes the relationship between the object and the subject of the verb.

Active Voice VS Passive Voice: Difference

Learning the difference between the two forms of grammatical voice is necessary to make ideal sentences. Active and Passive voices form the majority of our language. You can create carefully curated documents with the knowledge of Active and Passive voice. Here is some more clarity about the two unique types of grammatical voice.

For Ex: Active voice is a sentence construction in which the subject performs the action, for example, “The dog bit the mailman.” Passive voice, on the other hand, is a sentence construction in which the subject receives the action, for example, “The mailman was bitten by the dog.” The main difference between the two is the focus of the sentence, active voice emphasizes the doer of the action while passive voice emphasizes the action or the receiver of the action.

What Is Active Voice?

The technical definition of Active voice is quite vague. It is defined as when in a sentence, the subject is performing the verb actions. The description can help show some light on the use of Active voice.

It is quite straightforward and is beneficial for inaccurate communication. Using an Active voice in sentences has a direct and clear message. Here are a few examples that will give you a better idea of the use.

What Is Active Voice?

All three sentences make use of essential Active voice. You can identify the sentence effortlessly through the definition. The subject and action keep changing in every sentence. The layout of the sentences is the same in every line.

What Is Passive Voice?

A Passive voice refers to the situation when the subject is acted on by the verb. The words can be a little confusing to understand at first. In reality, it is quite simple, and the opposite of an Active voice. Passive voice sentences sound a little confusing.

They can be used to convey the same message uniquely. Active voice is the straightforward version, but Passive voice twists the language. The sentences can be instantly recognized because they are a little complicated to read. We will convert the same examples given above so you can understand the difference better.

What Is Passive Voice?

In each sentence, the meaning remains the same. The way of forming the sentence is wholly changed through Passive voice. You can notice Passive voice is usually accompanied by the preposition “By.” It creates a significant part of a sentence but is not compulsory to use. The preposition depends on the situation portrayed in the sentence.

Active Voice VS Passive Voice: Structure

Knowing the structure of your sentence is crucial to have a solid grip on the language. The text structure can be beneficial to users. When you learn it, you can easily convert sentences from one type of voice to another. The overall structure of the two grammatical views is explained below.

English Language structure

1. Active Voice:

Active voice sentences are quite straightforward. There are three aspects to any punishment. You need to identify them to create sentences. These 3 are the subject, action, and verb. The entire grammatical voice theory is based on them.  Active voice sentences use the three aspects with the subject leading, followed by the verb, and then the action. It satisfies the definition of the voice type.

Grammatical Structure: Subject + Verb + Object

2. Passive Voice:

Passive Voice sentences are a little twisted. They also follow the same three aspects of the sentence. In most cases, a preposition is also added. The key is to know these three aspects by heart. In Passive voice sentences, the order is an object, 3rd form of the verb, the preposition, and then the subject.

Note – You can easily convert sentences interchangeably through the structure. It is critical information to keep track of the language. Shift the order of sentences to change the voice type.

Grammatical Structure: Object + form of “to be” + past participle of main verb or Object + modal verb + be + past participle of main verb

Active Voice VS Passive Voice: Examples

Example 1:

  • Active Voice – Katey changed the tires of her car.
  • Passive Voice – The tires of the car were changed by Katey.

Example 2:

  • Active Voice – Ross ate everything on his plate.
  • Passive Voice – Everything on the plate was eaten by Ross.

Example 3:

  • Active Voice – The teacher answers all the questions.
  • Passive Voice – All the questions are answered by the teacher.

When to use Active voice and Passive Voice?

It is essential to know when you should employ either. They form a considerable part of our diction. Both written and spoken language utilize the grammatical voice. Active voice sentences sound quite clear and help convey a message effectively.

The Passive voice, on the other hand, seems very confusing in some cases. We recommend that you don’t use the Passive voice because you want to sound fancy. It can give a wrong impression to the person listening depending on the situation.

An Active voice helps you to state clear facts and convey messages easily. A Passive voice is helpful when you need to be vague. Passive voice can sometimes seem weaker in comparison.

Ideally, it all boils down to the situation you choose. It is the reason why we need to know when to use them. Knowing your grammatical voice can be helpful in the long run.

Active voice vs passive voice

Using an Active voice is always a good idea. It shows that you are confident, calm, and have your facts straight. Avoid using Passive voice for meaningful communication. Use it only when you can’t form a sentence in an Active voice.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

When To Use Active vs Passive voice?

Active voice is used when the subject of the sentence is performing the action. Passive voice is used when the subject of the sentence is receiving the action. It is generally considered clearer and more direct to use Active voice in most cases.

How To Tell Active vs Passive Voice?

Active voice sentences have the subject performing the action, while Passive voice sentences have the subject receiving the action. To identify Passive voice, look for a form of the verb “to be” (is, was, were, etc.) and a past participle of the main verb (such as “written” or “driven”). If present, the sentence is likely in Passive voice.

What are the 5 rules of Active and Passive voice?

For Active Voice:
1. Subject + Do/does+ not + V1 + Object
2. Does+ Subject+ V1+Object

For Passive Voice:
1. Object + is/am/are+ not + V3+ by Subject
2. Is/am/are + Object+ V3+ by subject


Active and Passive voices form a considerable part of our vocabulary. The guide can be a useful means for users to learn the difference between the two effectively. Follow the pattern of Active voice and Passive voice to know more about sentence composition. Use our tips in real life to become a better communicator.

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