EDUCE Overview Copyright 2009 Nikolas S. Boyd.
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Normal Voice


Convert a passive verb to an active verb.


People often express their ideas using passive voice, especially when speaking of past events with past tense verbs. So, passive expressions are a typical part of ordinary conversation and written discourse. However, a sentence that uses passive voice may be missing its true subject.

a mouse was eaten (by what?)
a mouse was eaten by a cat

Notice that even when a missing subject has been discovered, passive voice displaces the subject from its normal location at the beginning of a sentence. You can correct both of these deficiencies using active voice for each verb.


Use active voice when


Every passive expression has a corresponding active expression. An active verb strengthens a statement and forces the discovery of its true subject. An active verb forces the true subject to move to its normal place at the beginning of a sentence.

a cat ate a mouse
a cat eats a mouse

Putting the true subject at the beginning of a sentence is especially useful for transitive verbs, which indicate action or a relationship. The subject is the initiator of an action or a principal participant in a relationship.

Object-oriented designers often use present tense verbs with active voice to describe the responsibilities of collaborators in object systems.


A normal form sentence has an active verb with a complete predicate, singular number, affirmative polarity, indicative mood, and appropriate tense.