Writing in Active and Passive Voice Difference

Do you know the difference between the active and passive voice? Do you often use this grammatical category? Is it easy to understand?

While preparing academic papers, it can be hard to decide when to put the verbs in the active voice or in the passive one. This grammatical issue fulfills several functions. It can be used to emphasize some information or change speaker’s intonation. The “voice” shows the relation between the action expressed by the verb and the object (subject) that carries it out.

How to Differ Two Types of Voices

If a person or a thing, that is the subject of the sentence, performs an action, then one should use active voice verbs. If the thing denoted by the subject is acted upon – we use the passive. In order to understand it better, we offer you to pay attention to the following sentences:

  • Sandra drank a glass of orange juice. (The verb “drank” is expressed in the active state, as the subject “Sandra” is the doer of the action.)
  • A glass of orange juice was drunk by Sandra. (The verb “drunk” is used in the passive state, as the action expressed by the verb is performed on the subject “a glass of orange juice”.)

In order to learn more about this grammatical category and avoid misunderstandings, consider the following sentences written in the active and passive voice:


  • Alison planted beautiful flowers in the garden.
  • Parents painted the house two days ago.


  • Beautiful flowers were planted by Alison in the garden.
  • The house was painted by parents two days ago.

How to Know in Which Cases to Use Each Category of the Verb

If to compare these two categories, the first one (active) is more often used in different types of writing than the second one (passive). Besides, it is also commonly used in speaking. It is absolutely clear and does not confuse readers and speakers. Everyone can easily determine the subject of the sentence and his/her (its) actions.

You may not like using the passive voice, but it is as important as the active one. There are some cases when it is necessary to use this category of the verb. This information is presented below.

It is often used when a writer wants to underline something meaningful. He/she may want to show that the action is more significant than a person or thing that performs it. All students should know that it is not commonly used in academic writing. However, it is a widespread phenomenon in making reports and providing instructions on how to do something. We use the passive voice verbs when the doer of the action is unknown. Take a close look at the following sentences:

  • “The crown was stolen,” “A lot of houses were destroyed during the hurricane,” etc.

It is also applied for writing lab reports. It helps concentrate on the results of the research and not on those who have conducted it.