Active voice exercises

Using the active voice makes content sound more lively and less formal. It can help you write shorter sentences too. Use the active voice unless there is good reason to use the passive.

In the active voice, the subject (or agent) performs or causes an action. In the passive voice, the object of an action appears in the sentence before the action. Compare 'The committee discussed the project plan' (active) and 'The project plan was discussed by the committee' (passive). 'The committee' is the subject or agent, 'discussed' is the action or verb, and 'the project plan' is the object of that action.

Exercise 1

Identify the subject (agent), verb (action) and object of the action in the following sentences.

  1. My dog loves long walks.
  2. The proposal to increase the use of renewal energy sources was reviewed by the committee.
  3. We provide great facilities and the latest equipment to support children in a safe, fun, exciting and nurturing environment.
  4. Cardholders will not be required to pay an admission fee for their attendant carer.
  5. Fluent sentences are easy to understand.

Exercise 2

Which of the following sentences use the active voice and which use the passive?

  1. The pathways for approval of new undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs and changes to existing programs have been revised for 2009 as shown in the table below.
  2. Parents should not let children walk a dog on their own, unless they are confident that the child can control the dog in any situation.
  3. The application process for University Wide Equity and Commonwealth Indigenous Scholarships for 2010 will be administered through the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre.
  4. Meeting the needs of Kingston's culturally and linguistically diverse community is also important to us.
  5. The Citiplace Community Centre provides a wide and varied range of activities and services for people over the age of 55 years and disability pension recipients.

Exercise 3

These sentences all use passive voice. Which should be rewritten in the active voice and which can stay in the passive voice? Why?

  1. The speed limit in a built-up area has been reduced to 50 kilometres per hour.
  2. The region was heavily damaged in the Ash Wednesday bushfires.
  3. More than 50 species have been recorded, including goannas, skinks, geckoes, dragons and snakes.
  4. Rubbish is frequently dumped near the recycling bins.
  5. Classes at the preschool on the island are taught in English and the local language.

See: exercise solutions

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