May 24, 2012

Passive Versus Active Voice

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, May 24, 2012

One of my red flags to watch for when I edit is passive voice. And I usually find a lot of them (they can be identified by words such as 'was' and 'by'). Writing with a passive voice always seems to be how my drafts evolve. Then during my edits I need to find them and rewrite to be active - but sometimes I struggle with this.

Why change from passive to active? Active is a much more powerful way to write. In a passive construct the subject is the main 'character' but something else performs the action. In active construction the subject performs the action of the verb.
 An example of a passive sentence:
  • Mouse was eaten by Cat.
To rewrite as an active sentence:
  • Cat ate Mouse.


To rewrite from passive to active:
  • the subject of the passive sentence needs to become the object of the active sentence
  • the object of the passive sentence (which may not be identified in the sentence) becomes the subject of the active sentence


For example:
My vase (subject) was broken by Ann (object).
Ann (subject) broke my vase (object).

Do you struggle with active voice? Would love any hints and tips :-)

2 comments:

Kerri Williams on May 26, 2012 at 11:19 AM said...

Bahaha, I got confused. No seriously, I'm now going to go look for them.
Kez

Anita Joy on May 27, 2012 at 7:52 AM said...

Heh, Kez, I wrote this post so I could try and get it straight in my mind. Not sure I've managed it, but will keep trying. Good luck with yours :)

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