When Can Passive Voice Be Preferable To Active Voice?

In this section, we’ll dive into the world of active and passive voice usage. Discover the benefits and situations where active voice takes the lead. Stay tuned for insights on when active voice becomes the preferred choice!

Understanding Active and Passive Voice

Comprehending active and passive voice is essential for successful communication. Writers can make deliberate choices in sentence structure to achieve their aim.

Active voice emphasizes the subject performing the action, while passive voice highlights the receiver.

Factors such as tone, formality, clarity and emphasis all need consideration when choosing the appropriate voice.

Pro Tip: Active voice provides clarity and eliminates wordiness. Passive voice is best used occasionally.

When is Active Voice Preferred?

Active voice is preferred when the subject of the sentence does the action. It adds clarity and directness to the writing, as it shows who or what is responsible for the action. Active voice is also more interesting and efficient, making it the better option. For example, “The teacher graded the papers” is simpler than “The papers were graded by the teacher.” Active voice keeps a strong, active tone in the writing.

Use active voice when considering the context and purpose of the sentence. It works when you want to emphasize responsibility. It is great for actions that are ongoing or regular. Active voice attributes the action and result to a person or entity. This is useful in professional settings where accountability is important.

Active voice is often used in argumentative writing as it has an assertive and authoritative tone. By showing who is doing the action, you can make your arguments stronger. Additionally, active voice keeps consistency and clarity in the writing by not shifting the perspective.

Sometimes passive voice knows how to make an entrance, when it comes to choosing between active and passive voice.

When Can Passive Voice Be Preferable?

Passive Voice or Active Voice? Discover the factors to consider in choosing the voice for your writing. Uncover the benefits and circumstances when using the passive voice can be preferable. Explore the insights from experts and gain clarity on how to make informed decisions about voice selection. Don’t miss out on effectively communicating your message – join us as we dive into the realm of passive voice preferences.

Factors to Consider in Choosing the Voice

Choosing the voice is influenced by multiple factors. These aid in creating effective and clear sentences. So, writers can pick the right voice for that context.

To explain these factors, we made a table:

Factors Active Voice Passive Voice
Clarity Emphasizes doer Focuses on receiver
Responsibility Clearly assigns Anonymizes
Sentence structure Subject-verb-object Object-verb-subject

Sometimes, passive voice is preferred. For example, if the doer of an action is unknown or unimportant, passive voice can be used to emphasize the object, or to create variety in sentence structure.

By considering these factors, writers can craft sentences that effectively express their meaning, while keeping an appropriate style and tone.

Passive voice may have its detractors, but you can easily fix it with a simple subject-verb swap!

Common Misconceptions about Passive Voice

Passive voice is often criticised and misunderstood. But, there are still times when it’s better than active voice. Passive voice is when the subject of the sentence receives the action, instead of performing it. It can be used to draw attention to the action or to hide the actor.

In scientific or technical writing, passive voice keeps things objective and avoids blame. It can also create a more formal or impersonal tone.

Passive voice also lets writers turn verbs into nouns. This adds precision and clarity to sentences. It also helps to vary sentence structure and make the text easier to read.

When used well, passive voice has many benefits. Writers should consider the context, purpose, and audience of their writing. Identifying when it’s best to use passive voice, breaking up repetitive patterns, and using nominalization enhances communication.

By understanding how and when to use passive voice, writers can achieve their desired effects and debunk misconceptions.

Tips for Switching from Passive to Active Voice

Switching from passive to active voice? Here are some tips.

– Use action verbs. Replace passive verbs with active ones. Active voice adds life and directness.

Identify the doer. In active voice, the subject performing the action must be clear. This makes the sentence flow better.

Keep it concise. Active voice needs fewer words than passive voice. Remove extra words and make your writing tighter.

– Maintain clarity. Active voice is great for facts and opinions. It’s easier to understand and communicate.

When is passive voice better? Unknown or unimportant doers. When you want to focus on the object, not the doer. Consider the context and purpose of your writing. Decide if it’s time to switch!


Incorporating the “conclusion,” it can be said that passive voice has its uses. In scientific writing, it focuses on the object of the action, not the one performing it. This avoids blame and creates a neutral tone. Moreover, it can give writing a formal, objective tone. But, use it judiciously for clarity and avoid ambiguity. Finally, active voice is generally better, but passive can be used when the emphasis is on the receiver of the action.

Some Facts About When Can Passive Voice Be Preferable To Active Voice?

  • ✅ The passive voice is often used when the object is more important than the subject. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Passive voice can be used to create an objective or detached tone in writing. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ In formal or academic writing, passive voice is sometimes preferred for a sense of formality or to maintain an academic tone. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Passive voice sentences put more emphasis on the object rather than the subject. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ The choice between active and passive voice depends on the purpose and context of the writing. (Source: Team Research)

FAQs about When Can Passive Voice Be Preferable To Active Voice?

When can passive voice be preferable to active voice?

Answer: Passive voice can be preferable to active voice in certain situations. Here are some instances where the use of passive voice is preferred:
– When emphasizing the recipient of the action or the action itself, such as in research methodology.
– To maintain objectivity and detachment in writing, or to create a sense of formality or academic tone.
– When the doer of the action is unknown or unimportant, allowing the focus to remain on the object.
– In scientific writing, to draw attention to processes and results.

Why is passive voice sometimes criticized?

Answer: Passive voice is sometimes criticized due to the following reasons:
– It can obscure the meaning of sentences and make writing seem uncertain or unclear.
– Excessive use of passive voice can make writing appear dry and boring.
– Passive voice can result in vague or deceptive writing, as seen in sentences like “Mistakes were made.”
– It may indicate a lack of careful thought or ownership, as in the sentence “Women have always been oppressed.”

How can passive voice be used effectively in academic writing?

Answer: Passive voice can be used effectively in academic writing in the following ways:
– To highlight the object or action being performed, such as in research methodology sections.
– To avoid using the first or third person, as some researchers and journals prefer.
– When the agent performing the action is unimportant, obvious, or unknown.
– For rhetorical effect, emphasizing the action or the thing acted upon rather than the agent.

Can passive voice be preferred in technical subjects?

Answer: Yes, passive voice can be preferred in technical subjects for the following reasons:
– It allows for a better flow of information, especially when describing complex examples or procedures.
– Passive voice can help maintain clarity and conciseness in technical writing.
– It helps maintain consistency in focus throughout multiple sentences, avoiding the need to repeatedly mention the doer of the action.

Are there any situations where passive voice is not recommended?

Answer: While passive voice has its uses, there are situations where it is not recommended:
– In contexts where clarity, directness, and engagement are important, such as presentations or news articles.
– When writing for a general audience, including non-native English speakers, who may find passive voice harder to understand.
– When writing shorter and more straightforward sentences, as active voice is generally more concise.
– In situations where the focus should be on the subject or the performer of the action.

How can I change a sentence from passive to active voice?

Answer: To change a sentence from passive to active voice, follow these steps:
1. Identify the passive sentence and locate the agent performing the action (if mentioned).
2. Make the agent the subject of the sentence and rephrase the sentence to focus on the agent or doer of the action.
3. Adjust the verb form accordingly.
For example, the passive sentence “The paper was written by Tom” can be changed to the active voice as “Tom wrote the paper.”

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