Active Voice

Using active voice also helps enormously with flow. When you write, try to make at least eighty percent of the sentences active. When the subject of the sentence acts, the sentence is active.

When the subject of the sentence is acted upon, the sentence is passive

passive –>                “The meeting was called to order by the chairperson.”

active –>                     “The chairperson called the meeting to order.”

passive –>                  “A huge controversy was caused by the meeting.”

active –>                     “The meeting caused a huge controversy.”

passive –>                  “It was decided that no action would be taken.”

active –>                    “We decided to take no action.”

Use this three-step method:

  1. Find the verb (action word)

Bill was overwhelmed by the kindness. “Overwhelmed” is the verb.

  1. Ask, “Who or what did the _______ing” (put the verb in the blank.)

Who or what did the overwhelming? “The kindness” did it.

  1. Place the actor (the “who or what” that did it) directly in front of the verb.

The kindness overwhelmed Bill. an active sentence

Or try another strategy:

A sentence almost always becomes active if you remove all of the following words:

  • is
  • are
  • was
  • were
  • be
  • being
  • been
  • am

ACTIVE VOICE EXERCISE

You may work alone, but I would suggest working with a partner on this assignment.

Rewrite the sentences below so that they are active. If they are already active, simply write “active.”

  1. Steve was angered by the result.
  2. In the cases of chips and cheesecake, regular brands were preferred.
  3. The storm broke Horace’s TV antennae.
  4. After a long lunch, Bob was impressed by the facilities.
  5. After all of the discussion surrounding security issues, the party was cancelled.
  6. After all of the trouble with the delivery person, Kyle made a wonderful salad.
  7. I am troubled by the delivery person.

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