Outcome: Voice

Identify the Active and Passive Voices, as Well as the Reasons to Use Both

Voice is a nebulous term in writing. It can refer to the general “feel” of the writing, or it can be used in a more technical sense. In this course, we will focus on the latter sense as we discuss active and passive voice.

Teachers can get fired up about voice in writing. You may have had a frustrated (and frustrating?) professor write on your paper “Use passive voice!” or “Avoid passive voice!” during your studies. Most automated grammar checkers will be happy to flag and condemn all passive sentences for you. Further, your English textbook might suggest that the active sentence “Jack hit the baseball” is better than the passive sentence “The baseball was hit by Jack.” As well-intentioned as they might be, these tidbits of advice don’t help much, do they? You are not likely to have anyone named Jack hitting any baseballs in your papers, and obviously both passive and active voice are powerful tools in the right hands.

In this outcome, we will examine both the active voice and the passive voice, and we will determine just when to use each.

What You Will Learn to Do

  • identify active voice
  • identify passive voice

The Learning Activities for This Outcome Include

  • Text: Active and Passive Voice
  • Text: Using the Passive Voice
  • Self Check: Voice
  • Try It: Voice