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Active Voice

Cats eat mice.

The active voice is the "normal" voice of an English sentence. Intransitive verbs (verbs with no direct object) are always in the active voice. Transitive verbs are usually in the active voice:

subject verb  
Johnny laughed.  
Anton got up late.
People drink water.

In the active voice, the subject is the person or thing responsible for the action of the verb.

All tenses are possible in the active voice, as well as all sentence types, positive, negative or question.

Use of active

The active voice is the "default" voice in English. All intransitive verbs can only be in the active voice, and all transitive verbs usually are active voice - unless we deliberately make them passive.

In spoken English, we almost always use active voice. It is the natural choice, more precise and generally shorter.

In written English, active voice is usually easier and more interesting for the reader. Passive voice can sound dull and bureaucratic, and is typical of official writing. In the interests of "plain English" that the average person can understand, many governments now encourage civil servants to write in the active voice.

The active voice is:

  • direct and specific
  • uses fewer words - always a good thing
  • dynamic

Except on occasions when the passive voice is actually useful, the active voice is the voice of choice.