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Interactive Rubric for Written Communication: 5.2.4. Voice (Active/Passive)

This guide will help you understand common conventions of academic writing and the application of marking rubrics



Definition (formal)

Voice (Active/Passive) relates to whether the subject or the object of a sentence is the focus of the verb (i.e., the doing word). The choice of voice affects the tenor of the writing. Most writing and everyday speech (unless you're a Jedi called Yoda) is in active voice.  The subject does something to the object. For example, 'The student (subject) wrote (verb) the essay (object)'.  However, in passive voice this order and emphasis is changed.  For example, 'The essay (subject) was written (verb) by the student (object)'. In academic writing it is generally better to use the active voice.  

Definition (informal)

Voice (Passive/Active): It was done by who? Who did it?


For example, the Persuasive Essay Example uses more active voice than passive voice for clear and concise expression and emphasis.  

Less appropriate (passive voice): To help students learn is the goal of education.

More appropriate (active voice): The goal of education is to help students learn.

Resources (textbook)

Refer to the textbook pages and sections to improve your knowledge and understanding of the criterion.

Resources (web)

Click on the links to access online resources to improve your knowledge and understanding of the criterion.

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