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Active Voice Writing

Updated on May 15, 2014

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

The girl is walking the dog.
The girl is walking the dog.

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.

Scarlett in the midst of chasing her tail.
Scarlett in the midst of chasing her tail.

Choose your favorite sentence with my cat as the subject:

See results

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.

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):

  1. sleeps -- Mary sleeps till 8 a.m. each day.
  2. reads -- Tom reads the newspaper instead of reading news online.
  3. growls -- My stomach growls when I get hungry.

Affiliate Disclosure

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!

Write Your Comment in Active Voice - If you want to.

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    • Tricia Deed profile image

      Tricia Deed 

      4 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      Examples of active voice are simple and to the point. I get it. Thank you.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 

      6 years ago from Australia

      This is a great lesson. Scarlett O'Hairy teaches well.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      6 years ago from UK

      Useful advice, I will revisit some of my writing and see how I am doing. Maybe it could lead toa lot of editing, LOL

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 

      7 years ago

      I use the active voice often. It energizes the reader.

    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 

      7 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      Can never hear enough about the importance of active voice. Great lens!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      I've worked on wiping out the passive voice in my writing. Sometimes I still slip up but it is important. Thanks for clarifying it.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Every now and then almost all of us tend to do this passive voice thing...I'm always going back and rewriting my stuff because of it. You've given us a great refresher course! Thanks for sharing.

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 

      7 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      I love the Mr. Morton video! <3

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 

      7 years ago

      Very very cute lens Loved the sentences with Scarlet. Well done.

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