Passive Voice Exercise
by Deb Brammer
Change the following sentences from passive voice to active voice.
1. Kevin was charged with arson.
2. The meeting was dismissed.
3. Tourists alerted officials when the banner was unrolled.
4. The dog had never been washed.
5. Zoe was hit by a rock.
6. New Zealand’s first cities were built by Europeans.
7. Their relationship was built on trust.
8. The jersey was knitted by my friend.
9. The wall was sprayed with graffiti.
10. The house had been well looked after.
More than one answer exists for each question. Often a sentence in passive voice can best be changed by completely rewording the sentence. Here are some possible answers:
1. The officer charged Kevin with arson.
2. The chairman dismissed the meeting.
3. Tourists alerted officials when the activists unrolled the banner.
4. No one had ever washed the dog.
5. A rock hit Zoe. OR A mean boy hit Zoe with a rock.
6. Europeans built New Zealand’s first cities.
7. They built their relationship on trust. OR Trust was the foundation of their relationship.
8. My friend knitted the jersey.
9. Vandals sprayed the wall with the graffiti.
10. The tenants had looked after the house well. OR The tenants had taken good care of the house.
Notice: Passive voice often leaves out the subject of the sentence, the person or people who did the action. This is part of what makes passive voice weaker. It is also why passive voice is sometimes used. Sometimes the writer doesn’t know or doesn’t want to say who did the action. Or, in the case of my sentence “It is also why passive voice is sometimes used,” many people do the action and the writer wants to de-emphasize this. The active voice alternative for that sentence is, of course, “It is also why writers sometimes use passive voice.”