Active and Passive Voice Take out : -Writer’s Notebook -GA Studies materials
Defining “Voice” • “Voice” is a characteristic of verbs which indicates the relation of the verb’s action to its subject. • The voice of a verb may be either “active” or “passive.”
Active Voice • Active voice verbs are used when the subject is acting in a sentence. • Example: • Cindysteered the boat. • “Steered” is an action verb because it allows the subject to undertake an action. • Who steered that boat? • Cindy!
Passive Voice ~The boat was steered by Cindy. • That doesn’t sound very active? • Who did the steering? • Cindy? Why is she at the end of the sentence?
So….. Although both constructions are grammatically correct, the active voice is usually more effective in literature, academic writing, business writing, and speeches because it is simpler and more direct. The passive construction is effective only when the doer of the action is unknown or irrelevant. Examples: • The cruise liner was hijacked. (unknown) • The complex was attacked. (unknown) • The town was quarantined. (irrelevant- the focus is on the town.)
Your turn… Write down something that you did in the past week, month, year that you feel good about. It could be a kind act, an accomplishment, a difficult decision… Write it down.
Action… What is the verb in your sentence that shows action? • Scored, gave, decided, achieved, changed, surpassed, built, helped, supported, assisted, worked, donated…
Review • Active voice verbs: Verbs that indicate the sentence’s subject as actively acting: • Marvin hit the ball. • Passive voice verbs: Verbs that indicated the sentence’s subject as being acted upon: • The ball was hit by Marvin
Whenever a hair was found in his take out meal, the meal was returned to the restaurant by Mr. Hale. Or, • Mr. Hale returned the meal to the restaurant whenever he found a hair in his take out meal. (Who is doing the returning?)
The Civil Rights Movement… Is an excellent way to demonstrate the impact of “active voice” in writing. 1. Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963. 2. The “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington was given by Dr. King. • Which sentence sounds better? • What is the actionverb in each sentence? • Who or what performed the action?
1. Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. 2. The 1964 Nobel Peace Prize was received by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1964. • Which sentence sounds better? • What is the actionverb in each sentence? • Who or what performed the action?
1. The March on Washington was attended by over 250,000 people. 2. Over 250,000 people attended The March on Washington in August of 1963. • Which sentence sounds better? • What is the action verb in each sentence? • Who or what performed the action?
Which sounds better? I will not give up my seat! Or This seat will not be given up by me.
Active voice gives credit to the performer of the action! Active voice is empowering!