Difference Between Active Voice and Passive Voice (With Table)

There are five properties that the verbs have in English grammar. Voice is one of the five properties with the others being mood, tense, person and number. Active Voice and Passive Voice are the two types of voices that every verb follow. So, this article here will help you understand the differences between Active voice and Passive Voice.

 Active Voice vs Passive Voice

The main difference between Active voice and Passive voice is that Active voice focuses on the subject or person acting, whereas Passive voice focuses on the recipient of the action which has been performed. It is usually considered that passive voice tends to be incorrect if not framed properly.

Active voice is when the subject of the sentence is acting on the object of the sentence. Identifying an Active voice is very simple. Any sentence that follows the sequences of Subject (doer)then followed by a verb and at the end, the object (recipient) is an example of Active Voice.

Passive Voice is opposite to what Active Voice is. It is when the subject of a particular sentence is acted upon by the object of the sentence. If in a sentence the subject of the sentence is a recipient and the verb is in past participle form of ‘to be’ along with the object being the doer. Such kind of sentences are identified as the sentences with Passive voice

Comparison Table Between Active Voice and Passive Voice

Parameters of ComparisonsActive VoicePassive Voice
MeaningActive Voice is when a sentence tells us what the subject of the sentence does.Passive voice is when the sentence tells us what is done to the object of the sentence.
Treatment of SubjectThe subject is the doer or the one that performs the actionThe subject is the recipient of the one who is being acted upon
Formation of sentenceSubject +Verb +ObjectObject +Verb +Subject
ClarityThe sentence is more direct and more clearly understood by the reader.The sentence is indirect and can be confusing to read for the reader.
The tone of the sentenceThe sentence follows a more authoritative and subjective toneThe sentence follows a more neutral and objective tone.

What is Active Voice?

In a sentence conveyed through the Active Voice, the subject of the sentence acts on the verb of that particular sentence. Writers prefer to convey their ideas and messages through Active voice because it more clear and sends a crispier and more authentic message to the reader.

The use of the language in active voice is clear and concise. Active voice helps to deliver a statement in a more authoritative, strong and straightforward tone. In every active voice sentence, the subject is the one taking action. In the absence of the subject, there would be no one to act.

Writing in Active Voice may also help the students fine-tune their messages. In addition to a clearer tone, writing in an Active voice also helps to avoid unnecessary grammatical errors. Active voice helps to keep sentences crisp and also helps in keeping the readers engaged.

What is Passive Voice?

The Passive voice follows a structure where the verb is the one acting upon the subject. The verb used in the sentences is in the past participle of the ‘to be’. Besides all of this, the Passive voice also gives more attention to the preposition of the sentence.

Passive voice is usually avoided. Although it might seem that using fancier words can enhance the written material, it tends to make the writer matter more confusing and indirect. Scientific writings are leaned towards writing the content in a passive voice.

This does not mean that one cannot use the Passive voice completely. A person can use Passive Voice if he or she wants to emphasize the action more than the actor. A person can also use Passive voice if he or she is in a situation where naming the actor can get them in trouble then they might prefer to use Passive voice because it uses the subject as a recipient.

Main Differences between Active Voice and Passive Voice

  1. The sentence describes the situation according to the subject that performs the actions. In Passive Voice, the sentence tells or describes the situations according to the object on which the action is being acted upon.
  2. Active voice is when the subject of a sentence is the doer whereas a passive sentence is when the object of the sentence is the doer.
  3. In a sentence following g active voice, the object is the one being acted upon. In a sentence following Passive voice, the subject is the one that is being acted upon.
  4. The sentence when said or written in an active voice is clearer and more direct. A sentence when written in Passive voice is confusing and indirect
  5. The tone of a sentence being written in Active voice is authoritative whereas the tone of the sentence written in passive voice is more neutral.

Conclusion

The voice is of utmost importance when delivering a particular matter. Out of Active voice and Passive voice, Active voice is more preferred and recommended as it can convey messages more clearly and does not tend to be confusing for the person who is receiving the message.

Usage of Passive voice is not a bad thing but many times it tends to make things more complicated if not framed properly. A person can use passive voice if one has to emphasize the subject more than the object or to keep the subject more consistent throughout the message.

An individual may also use the passive voice if he or she wishes to be tactful and not name the doer of the action or they want to describe the condition in which the role of the doer or the doer himself is unimportant to the condition.  

One can change an Active voice sentence into a Passive voice sentence and vice-versa. Usage of Active voice can be preferred as the usage of Passive can also bring in a tangle of prepositional phrases.

References

  1. https://academic.oup.com/eltj/article-abstract/52/2/101/2924406
  2. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/iral.1985.23.1-4.1/html