Active vs. Passive Voice: Examples of the Difference

Updated January 4, 2023
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Having an active lifestyle can make your body stronger — but does writing in the active voice make your writing stronger? Most teachers and editors would say that it does, but the difference between active vs. passive voice isn’t that simple. Choosing between active voice and passive voice has to do with the writer’s intent and the message your sentence structure can convey.

What Is Active Voice?

In the active voice, the subject of a sentence performs the action. It follows a clear subject + verb + object construct that's easy to read. 

  • Laura complimented Allan.
    Laura (the subject) performs the verb (complimented); Allan (the object) receives the action.

When To Use Active Voice

The impact of active voice is that the focus is on the subject of the sentence, which performs the action, then the object receives the action.

 Tips for using active voice include using it when:

  • the subject is the most important part of the sentence
    (Aunt Jo gave me a necklace.)
  • you want to focus on the action
    (My team won the soccer championship.)
  • you want to write clearly and concisely
    (I finished my homework.)

Active Voice Examples

Most sentences you read are in the active voice. If the noun before the verb is performing that verb, and the noun after the verb is receiving it, it’s safe to say that the sentence is in the active voice.

  • Thousands of tourists visit the Grand Canyon every year.
  • The homeowners remodeled the house to help it sell.
  • The saltwater corroded the metal beams.
  • Kangaroos carry their joeys in their pouches.

What Is Passive Voice?

With passive voice, the object comes first, and the subject comes after the verb (or is missing entirely) in an object + verb + subject format.

  • Allan was complimented by Laura.
    Allan (the object) comes first, but Allan isn’t performing the action. Laura isn’t performing the verb, even though she’s the one giving the compliment.

When To Use Passive Voice

Passive voice leads to all kinds of structural confusion for the reader. Still, there are times when passive voice is acceptable — and even preferable. Readers and editors are okay with moving or eliminating the subject in the passive voice when:

  • the writer wants to focus more on the object
    (George was honored by the mayor.)
  • the subject isn’t important or it’s obvious
    (The lawn is watered every week.)
  • the subject is unknown
    (My car was stolen.)
  • in scientific or academic writing
    (Our survey was completed by seventy participants.)

Passive Voice Examples

  • The Grand Canyon is visited by thousands of tourists every year.
  • The house was remodeled by the homeowners to help it sell.
  • The metal beams were corroded by the saltwater.
  • Joeys are carried by kangaroos in their pouches.

Active vs. Passive Voice Examples

It’s not difficult to see the difference between active and passive voice — especially when you line them up next to each other. Looking at these examples, you'll see how easy it also is to change passive voice to active voice

Active Voice

Passive Voice

Harry ate six shrimp at dinner.

At dinner, six shrimp were eaten by Harry.

Beautiful giraffes roam the savannah.

The savannah is roamed by beautiful giraffes.

Sue changed the flat tire.

The flat tire was changed by Sue.

We are going to watch a movie tonight.

A movie is going to be watched by us tonight.

I ran the obstacle course in record time.

The obstacle course was run by me in record time.

The crew paved the entire stretch of highway.

The entire stretch of highway was paved by the crew.

Mom read the novel in one day.

The novel was read by Mom in one day.

I will clean the house every Saturday.

The house will be cleaned by me every Saturday.

The company requires staff to watch a safety video every year.

The staff are required by the company to watch a safety video every year.

Tom painted the entire house.

The entire house was painted by Tom.

The teacher always answers the students' questions.

The students' questions are always answered by the teacher.

The choir really enjoys that piece.

That piece is really enjoyed by the choir.

A forest fire destroyed the whole suburb.

The whole suburb was destroyed by a forest fire.

The two kings are signing the treaty.

The treaty is being signed by the two kings.

The cleaning crew vacuums and dusts the office every night.

Every night, the office is vacuumed and dusted by the cleaning crew.

Larry generously donated money to the homeless shelter.

Money was generously donated to the homeless shelter by Larry.

The wedding planner is making all the reservations.

All the reservations are being made by the wedding planner.

Susan will bake two dozen cupcakes for the bake sale.

Two dozen cookies will be baked by Susan for the bake sale.

The science class viewed the comet.

The comet was viewed by the science class.

The director will give you instructions.

Instructions will be given to you by the director.


Printable Guide to Active vs. Passive Voice

If you’re looking for a visual way to understand these examples, click on the infographic below. You can also download and print it for future reference or as a handy decoration for your writing space.

definitions and examples of active and passive voice in chart

Active and Passive Voice Examples Chart

Click to View & Download

Maintaining an Active Lifestyle

Both active and passive voice can add clarity to your sentences — but they’re not the only elements of writing worth knowing. Refresh your understanding of the rules of grammar before deciding which voice to use in your latest draft of writing.