changingminds.org

How we change what others think, feel, believe and do

| Menu | Quick | Books | Share | Search | Settings |

Active and passive verbs

 

Techniques > Use of language > Parts of speech > Active and passive verbs

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Sentences have a structure of subject - verb - object, where the subject (or actor) performs an action (the verb) on an object.

Active verbs

Active verbs perform the actions of a subject within a sentence.

Use active verbs when you want to create interest and emphasize the action.

Use active verbs to give an order.

Passive verbs

Passive verbs describe the action done by the subject of a sentence. Passive verbs use a linking verb alongside the main verb. With passive verbs, it is often possible that the subject is not named.

Use passive verbs when you want to:

  • Downplay the actor, for example when:
    • The actor is not known
    • The actor is relatively unimportant
    • The actor has already been named.
  • Downplay the action, for example
    • To add focus to the object
    • When the action may seem hostile

Linking verbs

Linking verbs are neither active nor passive and act like an 'equals' (or inequality) sign. By far the most common linking verb is 'to be'.

Use linking verbs to describe a 'state of being'.

Example

Active: The man wrote the story.
Passive: The story was written by the man.
Linking: The story is good.

Active: The secret-service man shot the dark stranger.
Passive: The dark stranger was shot. [who did the shooting is not named]
Linking: The dark stranger is not dead.

Active (imperative): Please help me succeed.
Passive (downplay action): Errors will occur.
Passive (downplay actor): The components were tested.
Passive (focus on object): The president was bitten by the rat.

Discussion

Active and passive verbs may be mixed within sentences and used as appropriate.

Active verbs

Active verbs are generally clearer and add more interest than passive verbs.

Active verbs are common in speech and commands.

Passive verbs

Because the subject need not be named with the passive verbs, this can lead to a lack of clarity and ambiguity. It also means that if the subject is not known,

Passive verbs are common in formal writing, such as academic, technical and business papers.

See also

Using Verbs, Nominalization

Site Menu

| Home | Top | Quick Links | Settings |

Main sections: | Disciplines | Techniques | Principles | Explanations | Theories |

Other sections: | Blog! | Quotes | Guest articles | Analysis | Books | Links | Help |

More pages: | Contact | Caveat | About | Students | Webmasters | Awards | Guestbook | Feedback | Sitemap | Changes |

Settings: | Computer layout | Mobile layout | Small font | Medium font | Large font |

 

You can buy books here

More Kindle books:

And the big
paperback book


Look inside

 

Please help and share:

 

Quick links

Disciplines

* Argument
Brand management
* Change Management
Coaching
+ Communication
Counseling
+ Game Design
+ Human Resources
+ Job-finding
* Leadership
+ Marketing
Politics
+ Propaganda
+ Rhetoric
* Negotiation
* Psychoanalysis
* Sales
Sociology
+ Storytelling
+ Teaching
* Warfare
Workplace design

Techniques

+ Assertiveness
* Body language
* Change techniques
* Closing techniques
+ Conversation
Confidence tricks
* Conversion
* Creative techniques
* General techniques
+ Happiness
+ Hypnotism
+ Interrogation
* Language
+ Listening
* Negotiation tactics
* Objection handling
+ Propaganda
* Problem-solving
* Public speaking
+ Questioning
+ Using repetition
* Resisting persuasion
+ Self-development
+ Sequential requests
Stress Management
* Tipping
Using humor
* Willpower

Principles

+ Principles

Explanations

* Behaviors
+ Beliefs
* Brain stuff
Conditioning
+ Coping Mechanisms
+ Critical Theory
+ Culture
+ Decisions
* Emotions
+ Evolution
Gender
+ Games
Groups
Habit
+ Identity
+ Learning
+ Meaning
Memory
+ Motivation
+ Models
* Needs
+ Personality
+ Power
* Preferences
+ Research
+ Relationships
+ SIFT Model
+ Social Research
Stress
+ Trust
+ Values

Theories

* Alphabetic list
* Theory types

And

- About
- Guest Articles
- Blog!
- Books
- Changes
- Contact
- Guestbook
- Links
- Quotes
- Students
- Webmasters

 

| Home | Top | Menu | Quick Links |

Changing Minds 2002-2014
Massive Content -- Maximum Speed