Active and Passive Voice Usage in Academic Writing

Students usually ask themselves “What are the major differences between active and passive voice usage?” “When should each voice be used?” “Are there any specific rules when to utilize passive voice?”

Writing essay seems to be an easy task, but when it comes to the choice of vocabulary and the voice of verbs, students usually make a number of mistakes. It does make a difference which voice you choose since it determines intonations, focus of the sentence, your personal emphasis, etc. Moreover, there is a significant interdependence between the state and the action of the verb, which students have to take into account while working on sentence structures. Students underestimate the importance of proper grammar usage in each academic paper. They think that if the content is just what professor demands, they will get a good grade. However, multiple grammar mistakes can cause a grade deduction because grammar flaws influence one’s comprehension of the content. Therefore, if you wish to get the best grade for your essay, term paper, thesis, etc., make sure you understand what active voice, noun-verb agreement, and other aspects mean.

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What Makes Active/Passive Voice Different?

If you want to differentiate between active voice verbs and passive ones, you have to remember one simple rule. If the subject is a doer of the action, then the verb is definitely written in an active voice. At the same time, if the subject does not perform any action, then the verb belongs to the passive voice. Examples below will help you comprehend the rules.

  • Sarah baked a huge pie for her parents. (The verb “baked” belongs to the active voice because the subject “Sarah” is the doer of the action).
  • A huge pie was baked by Sarah . (The verb “baked” belongs to the passive voice because “a huge pie” is the key of the action).

More Passive/Active Voice Examples

Please have a look at sentences created by writers at to be able to differentiate between passive and active voice.


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Active Voice

  • The company administration has just fired low-skilled workers.
  • Elementary students counted books on the table.
  • Steve ate three cheeseburgers during the daytime.
  • We are going to play basketball today.
  • The critic published a breathtaking review in the local newspaper.

Passive Voice

  • Low skilled workers have been just fired by the company administration.
  • Books on the table were counted by elementary students.
  • Three cheeseburgers were eaten during day time.
  • Basketball is going to be played today.
  • A breathtaking review was published by the critic in the local newspaper.

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When to Use Active/Passive Voice

When it comes to academic writing, it is always preferable if students resort to the active voice verbs more frequently than to the passive voice verbs. If you want to prove that you know what formal or neutral English is, you have to use active voice. It will be clear what the subject or doer of the action is. However, it is obvious that there will be instances when you will have to resort to the passive voice usage and academic writing does not restrict it. It usually occurs when students want to emphasize not the doer, but the action itself. When professors ask to write a report about certain events, students will be obliged to use passive voice (e.g. “The local shop was robbed yesterday in the evening” or “Approximately 30 people were injured after the hurricane”).

If you still cannot differentiate between active and passive voice, do not hesitate to contact our writers at for online writing assistance. They can both deliver an essay written from scratch or proofread personally written papers to ensure there are no grammar and formatting mistakes.

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