OWL logo
General WritingResearch and CitationTeaching and TutoringSubject-Specific WritingJob Search WritingESL
OWL at Purdue Logo

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/). When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Active and Passive Voice


This handout will explain the difference between active and passive voice in writing. It gives examples of both, and shows how to turn a passive sentence into an active one. Also, it explains how to decide when to choose passive voice instead of active.

Contributors: April Toadvine, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2018-02-07 02:38:28

Using Active Versus Passive Voice

In a sentence using active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action expressed in the verb.

The sentence, the dog bit the boy, includes a subject (the dog) who performs the action expressed in the verb (biting the boy).

Image Caption: The arrow points from the subject performing the action (the dog) to the individual being acted upon (the boy). This is an example of a sentence using the active voice.

The active voice sentence, scientists have conducted experiments to test the hypothesis, includes the scientists (the sentence subject) performing the action.

Image Caption: Sample active voice sentence with the subject performing the action described by the verb.

The subject of the sentence is performing the action described by the verb in this active voice sentence, watching a framed, mobile world through a car's windshield reminds me of watching a movie or TV.

Image Caption: The active voice sentence subject (watching a framed, mobile world) performs the action of reminding the speaker of something.

Each example above includes a sentence subject performing the action expressed by the verb.

View examples of active verb tenses. 

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.