Active Voice – When to use Active vs Passive

WRITTEN February 7, 2018 Author: Rich Atkins

What is active voice? Many of us have seen our word processors suggest that we revise from passive voice to active. OK.


What if we don’t know what that means?


“Sure, I know that I’m supposed to use active voice when constructing sentences; and avoid passive voice.”

What does that mean?

Active voice means that the doer of the action is the subject of the sentence. For example:

Doer (subject) Action (verb) Goal (object)
Eddie distributed the memos.
The car hit the mailbox.


Passive voice means that the goal appears in the subject position; the doer may appear in the object position.

Goal (subject) Action (verb) Doer (object)
The memos were distributed by Eddie.
The mailbox was hit by the car.


Passive voice tends to be wordier than active voice. It also puts the spotlight on the object rather than the subject. Use active voice to make your writing more appealing to your audience.


This information is from the Effective Business Writing 
class. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.

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