What Is Active Voice? (with Examples)
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What Is Active Voice? (with Examples)

A verb is said to be in active voice when the subject performs the verb.

Look at this example of the active voice:


Active voice is a quality of a verb that describes when its subject is acting out the verb. When the opposite is true (i.e., the subject of the sentence is being acted upon by the verb), it is said to be in passive voice.

Look at this example of the passive voice:


Examples of Verbs in the Active Voice

If a verb is in the active voice, its subject perform the action of the verb.

Examples of active verbs (active verbs shaded):

  • Curiosity killed the cat.
  • Step 1: Find the subject.
    (In this example, it's Curiosity.)
    Step 2: Did the subject perform the verb?
    (In this example, the verb is to kill, and Curiosity did perform the action of the verb. Therefore, killed is a verb in the active voice.)

  • All power corrupts.
  • Step 1: Find the subject.
    (In this example, it's All power.)
    Step 2: Did the subject perform the verb?
    (In this example, the verb is to corrupt, and All power did perform the action of the verb. Therefore, corrupts is a verb in the active voice.)

  • Some weasel removed the cork from my lunch. (W. C. Fields, 1880-1946)
  • Step 1: Find the subject.
    (In this example, it's Some weasel.)
    Step 2: Did the subject perform the verb?
    (In this example, the verb is to remove, and Some weasel did perform the action of the verb. Therefore, removed is a verb in the active voice.)

Sometimes, it's a little trickier to spot whether the subject carried out the action of the verb. Look at the two examples below. They tell similar stories, but the first one is an active sentence, and the second is a passive sentence.

  • The boy tripped while running.
  • Step 1: Find the subject.
    (In this example, it's The boy.)
    Step 2: Did the subject perform the verb?
    (In this example, the verb is to trip, and The boy did perform the action of the verb. Therefore, tripped is a verb in the active voice.)

  • The boy was seen tripping while he ran.
  • Step 1: Find the subject.
    (In this example, it's The boy.)
    Step 2: Did the subject perform the verb?
    (In this example, the verb is to see, and The boy did not perform the action of the verb. Therefore, was seen is a verb in the passive voice.)
So, in the second example, the boy is not performing the action of the verb. Some unknown person is performing the action by seeing the boy trip. This is an example of the passive voice because the subject is not acting out the verb.

More examples of active sentences:

  • The kite soared high in the air.
  • The children shielded their eyes from the bright sun.
  • A squirrel quickly ran across the grass to climb a giant tree.
  • Paul imagined the animals different cloud shapes could form.
  • The ants swarmed the picnic with military precision.
  • Suzy chased the butterfly with a net.
  • He is happy.
  • (Remember, the verb to be is the most common verb in every language.)
  • They are late.



See also:

What are verbs?
What is the subject of a sentence?
What is the object of a sentence?
What is passive voice?
What is an active sentence?
What is a passive sentence?
What voice should I use?
 
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