Active Voice vs. Passive Voice

A Comprehensive Guide

Active voice and passive voice are two ways to structure sentences, each with its own clarity and focus. Believe it or not, but both active and passive have a purpose. You may have heard to always avoid passive voice, but that is simply bad advice. The key is to know both and to know when to use both.

Writers often ask, “What is active voice?” or “What is passive voice?” Understanding the difference can not only improve your writing but also help in delivering your message more effectively.

Here’s a concise exploration of both, complete with examples and a touch of humor to keep things interesting.

Active Voice

  • In active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action expressed by the verb.
  • It makes sentences clearer and more direct.
  • SEO-wise, it’s preferred for its readability and engagement.


  • Active: The cat (subject) chased (verb) the mouse.
  • Active: The editor (subject) proofreads (verb) the manuscript.

Passive Voice

  • In passive voice, the subject of the sentence is acted upon by the verb.
  • It can be useful for emphasizing the action or the recipient of the action.
  • Sometimes criticized for leading to vagueness or a lack of directness.


  • Passive: The mouse was chased by the cat.
  • Passive: The manuscript is being proofread by the editor.

When to Use Which?

  • Active Voice: Most effective for clear, concise, and engaging writing. It’s direct and to the point, making it easier for readers to follow.
  • Passive Voice: Best used when the focus is on the action or recipient rather than who is performing the action. It’s often employed in scientific writing or formal reports.

A Funny Story

Imagine a detective novel written entirely in passive voice: “The mystery was solved by the detective. The culprit was arrested by the police. The case was closed by the judge.” The story might still be intriguing, but the sentences would likely dance around the action, making the excitement a bit harder to catch. It’s like watching a movie with the main characters always in the background – you know they’re important, but you’re not quite sure what they’re doing.

Memorize with a Poem

In active voice, the subject leaps,

I write,” it proudly speaks.

In passive voice, it’s not the same,

By the subject, the action is claimed.

When clarity is your true aim,

Let active voice light up the flame.

But when the action’s more profound,

Passive voice can be found.

Remember then, this simple guide,

In your words, let clarity reside.

Active or passive, choose with care,

And let your writing take you there.

Understanding when to use active or passive voice can dramatically affect the clarity and impact of your writing. Incorporating the right balance can enhance your message and engage your audience more effectively. Whether drafting a blog post, academic paper, or a business proposal, remember the power of voice in shaping your narrative. For assistance in refining your use of active and passive voice, or any other writing needs, consider reaching out to professional editing services like PaperBlazer to ensure your writing is clear, engaging, and error-free.

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