Active vs. Passive Voice Mrs. Loomis Active Voice Makes your writing stronger Makes your writing more concise Consider the following examples: Igor eats the toad. The toad is eaten by Igor. Which sentence is more concise? Wordy? Why? What makes a verb active or passive? A verb is in the active voice if the subject PERFORMS the action For example: Igor eats the toad. Subject Verb Direct Object or “Doer” “Does” “Doee” What makes a verb active or passive? A verb is in the passive voice if the subject RECEIVES the action For example: The toad is eaten by Igor. “Doee” “Does” “Doer” Use passive voice sparingly and for a specific purpose For example: Fresh out of law school, your boss assigns you your first big case. Your performance in this landmark case will make or break your career. The night before you are scheduled to appear in court, you misplace your briefcase, which contains documents essential to your case. You search and search, but to no avail. In the morning, when your boss questions the documents’ whereabouts, what is your reply? “Sir/Ma’am…” I misplaced the documents. Or The documents have been misplaced. Use passive voice sparingly and for a specific purpose Now suppose your colleague—who was jealous that your boss did not put him/her in charge of your case—finds your briefcase. What will he/she tell your boss? The documents have been found. Or I found the documents. How to identify (and fix) passive voice Highlight “To Be” verbs: Am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been THEN, look for a prepositional phrase following a “to be” verb/verb phrase (Google “prepositions” for a list if you don’t know the basics.) Samples: PASSIVE: Your “to be” verb is followed by a prepositional phrase. CHANGE TO ACTIVE: A prepositional phrase follows your “to be” verb. PASSIVE: It was discovered by scientists that the Arizona Crater was made by a meteor crashing into the earth. CHANGE TO ACTIVE: Scientists discovered that a meteor crashing into the earth created the Arizona Crater. How to identify (and fix) passive voice Be aware of passive voice where the prepositional phrase is implied but omitted. PASSIVE: It was discovered that a meteor crashing into the earth created the Arizona Crater. ACTIVE: A meteor crashing into the earth created the Arizona Crater. Are the following sentences passive? She is pretty. It was a great time.