Active Voice Writing
Active Voice Versus Passive Voice
Active voice writing brings words to life!
The boys pulled the tree limbs.
The tree limbs were pulled by the boys.
Which of these sentences was written in active voice? If you chose the first one, you're the big winner.
Active voice lets the subject of the sentence do the action, but in passive voice, the action is done to the subject. And since we want our writing to be powerful, active voice is the way to go.
It's easy to fall into bad habits with our writing, so I hope this active voice writing refresher hits the mark.
Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood
Is a Person (or Maybe a Place or a Thing) Doing Something?
If so, that's Active Voice
The easier way to know if you are writing your sentences in active voice is to look at who is doing what. If the subject of the sentence (a person, a place, or a thing, also mysteriously known as nouns) is acting, that is active writing.
In this sentence, "Sarah drank the water," the subject (Sarah) drank (verb) the water (object).
Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood
Active Voice Books - Learn to write in active voice
Is Active Voice Even Important? - Sure it is, but there is no wrong answer here. Take this fun quiz.
Choose your favorite sentence with my cat as the subject:
Write So Readers Are Engaged
Make Your Language Come to Life
Some more examples of active writing or active voice follow:
- Tyler swam in the pool.
- The storage shed housed the lawn mower.
- Josh opened the cereal box.
In these sentences, each person, place, or thing did something. Of course, the dish just sat there and the storage shed didn't actually do much either. In passive voice, these sentences might look something like this:
- The water was drunk by Sarah.
- The pool was swam in by Tyler.
- The lawn mower was housed by the storage shed.
- The cereal box was opened by Josh.
Did you notice that in all cases, the word "was" was used in the passive voice sentence? Check your sentences with this arrangement to see if you are writing in active voice or passive voice.
More Explanations of Active Versus Passive Voice - In case you didn't get enough or just want another explanation.
- Active Voice Versus Passive Voice
Get Grammar Girl's take on active voice versus passive voice. Learn whether passive voice is always wrong, or if it is sometimes preferred to active voice.
- Using the Active Voice to Strengthen Your Writing
Writing in the active voice means constructing sentences where the subject "acts": I threw the ball. You are making too much noise. Ben will eat popcorn and watch a movie tomorrow evening.
Books About Active Verbs
Action Verbs Bring Writing Alive
Action verbs rock!
See, rock is an action verb. My Squidoo lens on writing and grammar is titled Grammar Rules! The word "rules" acts as a noun and a verb and as a noun, is active!
Here are a few more action verbs (in action):
- sleeps -- Mary sleeps till 8 a.m. each day.
- reads -- Tom reads the newspaper instead of reading news online.
- growls -- My stomach growls when I get hungry.
This author, Peggy Hazelwood, participates in Amazon, eBay, All Posters, and other affiliate advertising programs. When you click an advertising link on this page and make a purchase, I receive a small percent of the sale. Thank you for reading this far!