How to Avoid Passive Voice in Your Writing

Good writing is clear, direct, and engaging. One of the critical aspects of achieving this is using the active voice instead of the passive voice. While passive voice isn’t grammatically incorrect, it can make your writing sound weak and less engaging. In this blog post, we will explore what passive voice is, provide examples, discuss its cons, and offer strategies for fixing it in your writing.

What is Passive Voice?

Passive voice occurs when the subject of a sentence receives the action of the verb, rather than performing the action. In contrast, active voice has the subject performing the action. Understanding the difference between these two can help you make more deliberate choices in your writing.

Passive Voice Examples

Let’s look at some common examples of sentences written in passive voice and their active voice counterparts:

Passive voice: The ball was kicked by John.

Active voice: John kicked the ball.

In the passive voice example, “the ball” is the subject receiving the action, while in the active voice example, “John” is the subject performing the action. 

Passive: The book was read by Mary.

Active: Mary read the book.

Passive: The project was completed by the team.

Active: The team completed the project.

Passive: The cake was baked by Sarah.

Active: Sarah baked the cake.

In each of these examples, the passive construction makes the sentences less direct and often longer than their active counterparts.

Cons of Using Passive Voice

Using passive voice can present several problems in your writing:

  • Reduced Clarity: Passive voice can make sentences less transparent and more challenging to follow, as the focus is shifted away from the subject performing the action.
  • Weak Writing: Sentences in passive voice often sound weaker and less confident than those in active voice.
  • Vagueness: Passive voice can obscure the subject of the sentence, leading to vague and impersonal writing. For example, “Mistakes were made” doesn’t specify who made the mistakes.

By using active voice, you make your writing more straightforward, more concise, and more engaging.

How to Fix Passive Voice

Here are some strategies to help you identify and fix passive voice in your writing:

1. Identify Passive Voice: Look for sentences where the subject is receiving the action. These often include a form of “to be” (is, was, were) followed by a past participle (e.g., kicked, completed).

2. Focus on the Subject: Make sure the subject of your sentence is the one performing the action. 

3. Use Strong Verbs: Choose strong, precise verbs to convey action directly. 

4. Reconstruct Sentences: Rearrange your sentences to put the subject first. This often involves placing the doer of the action before the verb.

5. Practice converting passive sentences to active ones:

– Passive: The report was written by Jane.

– Active: Jane wrote the report.

– Passive: The experiment was conducted by the scientists.

– Active: The scientists conducted the experiment.

6. Utilize Tools and Resources: Utilize grammar checkers and writing guides that highlight passive voice and suggest active alternatives. Programs like Grammarly and Hemingway App can be particularly helpful.


Avoiding passive voice is crucial for clear and engaging writing. By focusing on active voice, you can make your sentences more direct, powerful, and easy to understand. Practice the techniques discussed here, and you’ll see a significant improvement in your writing.

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