Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody, my name is Alisha. Today I'm going to talk about the difference between active voice and passive voice. In this lesson, I want to explain a few ways that I think can help you decide how to choose between active voice or passive voice, this will be hopefully useful for your speaking and for your writing skills. So, let's get started!
Okay, the first thing I want to talk about is the active voice. English uses a lot of sentences in the active voice, we like to use active voice a lot in speech and in writing. So we use active voice when we want to place emphasis on the subject, like the person or the thing that is doing an action or causing an action, so the emphasis here is on the subject. We know the subject of the sentence in the case of the active voice and we want to emphasize that the person who is doing an action, for example, you want to emphasize that you know who is doing the action, use the active voice.
So an example could be, a thief stole my bag; in this situation, we know a thief stole my bag, here, the simple past tense is used and we have "my bag" as the object here, so everything is clear, everything is known in this sentence. I'm going to talk about a different style, a different way to explain this sentence in just a moment, but we can use the active voice to explain a situation like this.
Another example, my coworker deleted an important file; so here's another situation we know who did the action, my coworker, in this case. Simple past tense "deleted" here shows the action that happened, the action that occurred and what was deleted, an important file, here. So again, I'm going to talk about a different way to explain this sentence in just a moment, but these are a couple ways we can use active tense or active voice rather when all the information is known.
Some more simple sentences, I ate dinner; again, the subject, the verb, and what was being eaten here, in this case.
I ate dinner; very simple sentence here.
He took me to a movie; so we know the subject, the action, who is receiving the, in this case, it's me, here.
She made dinner; again, very very simple sentences.
We can make simple sentences in just three words, for example, with the active voice, it's very very easy to use active voice, we just need to know the subject, what they did, and who received the effect or who that action occurred to. To put it in a strange way so we can use active voice to explain a lot of things in a very very short way, but sometimes active voice is maybe not the best choice, so let's take a look at passive voice and see if we can compare a few things here when we talk in the passive voice or when we write in the passive voice. We do it because we want to place emphasis on the object of an action, something which is receiving the action; we want to place the emphasis on that or we use it when the subject is unknown or unimportant.
So to give a few examples, let's look here, my bag was stolen; here "my bag," this is the thing that an action has occurred to, so, and you can think of it like the bag is the one or is the object that is receiving the action here. My bag was stolen, my bag was stolen. So we have to use a different grammar to explain in passive voice, so the difference here, "my bag was stolen," the difference between this sentence and "a thief stole my bag," is that we don't have a clear doer of the action, we're not talking about specifically who stole my bag but rather the important point here is that my bag was stolen, it doesn't matter who or we don't know who stole the bag, but I want to emphasize this situation. In this case, passive voice is much much better than active voice because I don't know the subject, perhaps.
Let's look at one more example, an important file got deleted; so here, you'll see "got," we use "got" a lot, this past tense "got," to a rather past participle "got," in passive voice a lot, it gives kind of more of a nuance of something negative occurring, it gives sort of the feeling that a negative outcome has happened as a result of the situation. So you might see "got deleted," or "got + the verb" in this case. So here I've used "got deleted," I'll show you one more in just a just a second. So here, an important file got deleted, let's compare this to the active voice, my coworker deleted an important file; in the active voice, I know who deleted the file, my coworker deleted the file, in the passive voice, however, I don't mention my coworker so maybe I don't know who deleted the file, I don't know who completed the action, who did the action, so I can drop that name, I can drop "my co-worker," I can drop the name of the person who did the action. I want to emphasize the situation, the file, the important file got deleted, that's what I want to emphasize in this case, I should use the passive voice, this sounds much much better if I want to emphasize "the important file." If however I want to emphasize "my coworker," for example, I'm angry with my coworker, I could say my coworker deleted an important file, in this case, the emphasis is "my coworker." In this sentence, the important file is the emphasis, so this is a really key point between the difference between active and passive forms.
Okay, let's look at a few more examples, so next one, your lunch got eaten; so again, I've used this "got" here, yeah, I've used "got + eat in the past participle form of the verb." So as I talked about in this sentence "got deleted," we use "got" to show kind of a negative outcome, something we didn't want to happen necessarily, this is very common in passive voice. So your lunch got eaten by whom, we don't know, somebody ate this person's lunch but we don't know who did the action so we can omit that person and we can simply emphasize your lunch, your lunch, here, this is the focus of the sentence, your lunch got eaten.
Okay, let's take a look at one more sentence, their window was broken. Their window was broken. We don't know how the window was broken, maybe it was a person, maybe it was a burglar, maybe it was bad weather, maybe just a strange accident, we don't know how or who broke the window so we can omit, we can remove any identifying information about who or what completed the action; instead, we focus on the window, their window was broken, this is the focus of this sentence.
Finally, let's look at one more. Flowers were delivered to the office; in this sentence, we don't know where the flowers came from, who ordered the flowers, we don't know any information about the situation, but we simply want to report something we saw at the office, for example. We can use the passive tense to do that, the flowers were delivered to the office.
So in each of these sentences, we don't know or it's not important who did the action or what did the action, but we want to emphasize the object of the action, we want to emphasize the person or the item receiving the action, in this case. In active voice, however, we want to emphasize the person doing the action, or the thing doing the action, so please keep this in mind when you're trying to choose between active voice and passive voice.
If it's a known subject or if you want to emphasize that subject more strongly than the item receiving that action, use the active voice. If you don't know the subject or if you want to emphasize the object of the action, use the passive voice.
I hope that those were a few good points, I hope that those are a few helpful ways to help you remember how to use active voice and passive voice. Thanks very much for watching this episode and we'll see you again soon. Bye!

15 Comments

Hide
Please to leave a comment.
๐Ÿ˜„ ๐Ÿ˜ž ๐Ÿ˜ณ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜’ ๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ˜  ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜… ๐Ÿ˜œ ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜ญ ๐Ÿ˜‡ ๐Ÿ˜ด ๐Ÿ˜ฎ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ โค๏ธ๏ธ ๐Ÿ‘

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
Pinned Comment
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 11:34 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hello Anne,


Thanks for taking the time to write and share this with us.

We will review it and take relevant action.


I hope you're enjoying your studies with us.


Regards,

ร‰va

Team EnglishClass101.com

Anne
Tuesday at 04:46 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Dear Patricia from Team EnglishClass101.com,

please watch out a bit more. Tim's second sentence was not right.

Best, Anne

anne
Tuesday at 04:42 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Dear Tim,

your two sentences are both in active voice.

I try to explain it with the verb VISIT.

WE VISITED ATLANTA LAST SUMMER. Here you are talking about what WE did. The action WE did is important.

ATLANTA WAS VISITED BY US LAST SUMMER. Now you are talking about ATLANTA. ATLANTA didn'd do anything. But what happened to ATLANTA is important.

Hope it helps,

Anne from Germany

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Friday at 09:43 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hello fadma fadma,


Thank you very much for your like! We hope you enjoy studying with us.๐Ÿ˜‡

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.


Kind regards,

Levente

Team EnglishClass101.com

fadma fadma
Thursday at 02:54 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 05:04 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hi Mukti,


You're welcome. ๐Ÿ˜‡


If you ever have any questions, please let us know.


Kind regards,

Levente

Team EnglishClass101.com

Mukti Prakash Datta
Wednesday at 07:26 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

๐Ÿ‘

EnglishClass101.com
Sunday at 09:50 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hi Manndanan,


Great to have you here!


Please stay tuned, as we'll have new lessons for you every week! And if you have any questions, feel free to ask us.


Best Regards,

Cristiane

Team EnglishClass101.com

manndanan
Wednesday at 10:42 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Thanks so much

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Thursday at 11:25 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hi Tim,


Thanks for posting!


Yes, good work keep it up!


If you have any other questions please let us know!


Cheers!


Patricia

Team EnglishClass101.com