How to Write in the Active Voice

by | July 03, 2024

Clear, direct writing can be a powerful tool! One of the best ways to achieve this clarity is by using the active voice. Using the active voice makes your writing more direct and dynamic. It helps convey your message more clearly and keeps your readers engaged. 

Definition of Active Voice

In the active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action. For example, “The cat chased the mouse.” Here, the cat (subject) is doing the chasing (action).

Active Voice vs. Passive Voice

As mentioned, active voice occurs when the subject of the sentence performs the action. It’s straightforward and easy to understand.

In passive voice, the subject of the sentence is acted upon by the verb. For instance, “The mouse was chased by the cat.” Here, the mouse (subject) is receiving the action.

Differences Between Active and Passive Voice

The difference in who is performing the action. Active voice: subject does the action (“The chef cooked the meal”). Passive voice: subject receives the action (“The meal was cooked by the chef”). Active voice is typically clearer and more engaging.

Benefits of Using Active Voice

Clarity and Directness in Communication

Active voice sentences are clear and to the point. They leave little room for ambiguity, making it easier for readers to understand your message. For example, “The manager approved the budget” is more straightforward than “The budget was approved by the manager.”

Engaging Readers

Active voice makes your writing more engaging and lively. It draws readers in by creating a sense of action and immediacy. For instance, “The dog barked loudly” is more vivid than “The loud bark was made by the dog.”

Enhancing Readability

Active voice boosts readability by making sentences shorter and more concise. This is particularly important in keeping the reader’s attention. It also makes your writing easy to follow.

Tips for Writing in the Active Voice

Use Strong Verbs

Instead of saying “The ball was thrown by John,” say “John threw the ball.” Strong verbs make your writing more dynamic and forceful.

Focus on the Subject Performing the Action

Always highlight the subject performing the action. This keeps your sentences active and engaging. For example, instead of “A song was sung by the choir,” use “The choir sang a song.”

Avoid Overuse of Passive Voice Constructions

While passive voice has its place, overusing it can make your writing dull and confusing. Keep your sentences active, reserving passive voice for when it’s truly necessary, like when the doer of the action is unknown or unimportant.

Examples of Active Voice Writing

Before and After Examples Demonstrating Active Voice

  • Before: “The report was completed by Sarah.”
  • After: “Sarah completed the report.”
  • Before: “The cake was eaten by the children.”
  • After: “The children ate the cake.”

These transformations show how active voice makes sentences more direct and lively.

Editing Passive Voice Sentences into Active Voice

Take a passive sentence like “The book was read by Maria” and change it to “Maria read the book.” This small tweak makes the sentence clearer and more engaging.

Practice Exercises

Sentences for Rewriting from Passive to Active Voice

Try converting the following sentences to active voice:

  1. The letter was mailed by Jane.
  2. The homework was done by the students.
  3. The meeting was scheduled by the manager.

Self-Assessment Questions to Test Understanding

  1. Why is active voice generally preferred over passive voice in most writing?
  2. How can using strong verbs improve your writing?
  3. When might it be appropriate to use passive voice?

Conclusion

Writing in the active voice enhances clarity, engages readers, and improves readability. It makes your sentences more direct and energetic, important for effective communication.

Practicing active voice writing techniques will help you become a more compelling and clear writer. So, keep practicing, and watch your writing become active and vibrant!

Name

Email

We’ll never share your email with anyone else


Recent Articles