Examples of Active and Passive Voice: A Side-by-Side Comparison

active and passive voice example sentences from the article
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    Giraffe With Active and Passive Voice Examples
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Subjects perform the action in a sentence, which makes the sentence active (and easier to understand). But what happens when a subject comes after the action, or when it’s completely missing from a sentence? Then you’ve got a passive sentence, and depending on what you’re writing, you’ve got some editing to do.

Active vs. Passive Voice

The active voice describes a sentence where the subject performs the action. For example, in the sentence “Laura complimented Allan,” Laura (the subject) is performing the verb (complimented) and Allan (the object) is receiving the action.  It follows a clear subject + verb + object construct that's easy to read. 

With passive voice, the subject comes after the verb. For example, in “Allan was complimented by Laura,” Laura isn’t performing the verb, even though she’s the one giving the compliment. Passive voice leads to all kinds of structural confusion for the reader; you can be more straightforward with active voice.

Active and Passive Voice Comparison

As you read through the following example sentences, you'll start to become an active voice expert.

Active Voice

Passive Voice

Harry ate six shrimp at dinner.

At dinner, six shrimp were eaten by Harry.

Beautiful giraffes roam the savannah.

The savannah is roamed by beautiful giraffes.

Sue changed the flat tire.

The flat tire was changed by Sue.

We are going to watch a movie tonight.

A movie is going to be watched by us tonight.

I ran the obstacle course in record time.

The obstacle course was run by me in record time.

The crew paved the entire stretch of highway.

The entire stretch of highway was paved by the crew.

Mom read the novel in one day.

The novel was read by Mom in one day.

I will clean the house every Saturday.

The house will be cleaned by me every Saturday.

The company requires staff to watch a safety video every year.

The staff are required by the company to watch a safety video every year.

Tom painted the entire house.

The entire house was painted by Tom.

The teacher always answers the students' questions.

The students' questions are always answered by the teacher.

The choir really enjoys that piece.

That piece is really enjoyed by the choir.

A forest fire destroyed the whole suburb.

The whole suburb was destroyed by a forest fire.

The two kings are signing the treaty.

The treaty is being signed by the two kings.

The cleaning crew vacuums and dusts the office every night.

Every night, the office is vacuumed and dusted by the cleaning crew.

Larry generously donated money to the homeless shelter.

Money was generously donated to the homeless shelter by Larry.

The wedding planner is making all the reservations.

All the reservations are being made by the wedding planner.

Susan will bake two dozen cupcakes for the bake sale.

Two dozen cookies will be baked by Susan for the bake sale.

The science class viewed the comet.

The comet was viewed by the science class.

The director will give you instructions.

Instructions will be given to you by the director.

Thousands of tourists visit the Grand Canyon every year.

The Grand Canyon is visited by thousands of tourists every year.

The homeowners remodeled the house to help it sell.

The house was remodeled by the homeowners to help it sell.

The saltwater corroded the metal beams.

The metal beams were corroded by the saltwater.

The kangaroo carried her baby in her pouch.

The baby was carried by the kangaroo in her pouch.

Should You Ever Use Passive Voice?

Believe it or not, there are times when passive voice is an acceptable — and even preferable — choice. Readers and editors are okay with passive voice when:

  • the writer wants to focus more on the object (George was honored with an award.)
  • the subject isn’t important or it’s obvious (The lawn is watered every week.)
  • the subject is unknown (It was stolen in the middle of the night.)
  • in scientific or academic writing (Our survey was completed by seventy participants.)

Printable Guide to Active vs. Passive Voice

If you’re looking for a visual way to understand these examples, click on the infographic below. You can also download and print it for future reference or as a handy decoration for your writing space.

definitions and examples of active and passive voice in chart

Active and Passive Voice Examples

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