Grammar: Active and Passive Verbs

Skill Focus: Writing an Argument

Grammar: Active and Passive Verbs


verb is a word or more than one word that is used to express an action or a state of being. Every sentence must have a verb. This makes the verb the most important word as far as the construction of a sentence is concerned. In a sentence, a verb connects the subject to the object. There are two different objects: direct object and indirect object.

Verbs have two voices: an active voice and a passive voice. Voice as the form of a verb shows whether the subject of the verb does the action (the active voice) or whether the action is done to it (the passive voice). Accordingly, we can write a sentence in either of the two different ways.

For you to write sentences with active verbs, make sure that the thing doing the action is the subject of the sentence and the thing receiving the action is the object. Let’s take a look at two different ways to construct a sentence:

1 – Busola passed the Biochemistry test.

2 – The Biochemistry test was passed by Busola.

First sentence:  ‘Busola’ – subject of the sentence, ‘Biochemistry test’- object receiving the action.

Second sentence: ‘Biochemistry test’- subject of the sentence, ‘Busola’ is now the object.

Which sentence uses an active verb and which sentence uses a passive verb?

First sentence, ‘Busola’ is the subject of the sentence and she is the performer of the action of the sentence. Therefore, the verb ‘passed’ is an active verb.

Second sentence, ‘Biochemistry test’ is the subject of the sentence and receiver of the action. What happened to Busola? Even though she is still doing the action of the sentence, she isn’t the subject anymore; now she’s just the object at the end of the sentence. Therefore, since the subject of this sentence isn’t the thing doing the action, the verb ‘was passed’ is a passive verb.

Another Example:

The verb is in the active voice when the subject,which can be a person or thing performs the action

  • Tony ate the rice. (Subject: Tony; verb: ate: object: rice)

The doer of the action is the Tony. The verb ate is in the active voice and is followed by the object.)

The verb is in the passive voice when the action is done to the subject.

Read more below: