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Active and passive voice

The active voice names an 'actor' which/who is the subject of the verb; the actor does the verb.

  • Who/What does the verb? If the answer is clear, the sentence is active. Note that often, there is a direct object (DO) 'receiving' the action.
Part of sppech Subject Verb
Sentence The students tested the samples.
The samples failed.
  • Who/What is the verb done to? This is the direct object.
Part of speech Subject Verb Direct Object
Sentence The students tested the samples.
  • Where possible, use the active voice. It is direct, brief, and easy to understand.

The passive voice places the emphasis on the action rather than the actor.The direct object is placed before the verb, which is given in the passive form. The subject, or actor, is usually not mentioned.


The samples were tested.

Table: Formation of the passive
Formation of the passive
The passive can use any tense of the verb to be + a Past participle
The load/s is/are

The report/s has been

have been
The sample/s will be

can be
The result/s is/are being

(should) have been

(could) have been

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