Mutant Lamas Seized the Town. (Passive vs. Active Voice): Wednesday, May 6th

Grammar is simple. All you need is this one Golden Rule.

Subject -> Verb -> Object

Passive Voice vs. Active Voice is a popular grammar rule and debate. It can be explained in a million complicated ways. But the underlying problem with passive voice is that it violates the Golden Rule. 

(I searched the web for some examples of passive voice vs. active voice. All the examples I found were boring and quite forgettable, so I wrote some new ones to help myself remember.)

Ex 1) Passive: The boy was given secret cuddles by the girl.

          Active: The girl gave secret cuddles to the boy.

Ex 2) Passive: The farm was seized by mutant lamas.

          Active: Mutant lamas seized the farm.

Ex 3) Passive: I was invited by aliens to try some intergalactic cheesecake.

          Active: Aliens invited me to try some intergalactic cheesecake.

Ex 4) Passive: Beer, socks, and robot puppies are three luxuries that Frank could never live without.

          Active: Frank can’t live without these three luxuries: beer, socks, and robot puppies.

Ex 5) Passive: Lamps are loved by me.

          Active: I love lamps.

Of course, Passive Voice isn’t always bad. Sometimes it’s appropriate. But the danger is that it confuses the subject and the object, and can leave the reader confused about what’s happening. If you stick to Subject -> Verb -> Object, then you’ll be two steps ahead of the competition.

As a writer, you want to make the reader’s job EASY.

Don’t leave your readers naked and alone with a crumpled map in the middle of a death maze.

Pave a yellow brick road for your reader, with rainbow railings on either side, and throw in a unicorn guide for good measure.


2 thoughts on “Mutant Lamas Seized the Town. (Passive vs. Active Voice): Wednesday, May 6th

  1. I definitely agree active voice is usually best. In example 3 for some reason I like the passive voice better, especially if it was the opening line of the story. Beer, socks, and robot puppies is a list of things that catches my eye first. I want to know why he can’t live without these things and especially why he can’t live without socks AND robotic puppies. (I know why he wants beer already). But the active voice opener (“Frank can’t live without….”) kinda bores me more because I don’t know who Frank is or care about him yet. Just a thought 🙂
    I also think you should maybe offer to write example sentences for textbooks. I definitely want to know about mutant llamas and intergalactic cheesecake.


    • Haha, thanks, Nyssi! Maybe silly lists are better used in the passive voice. Or maybe it’s a rule of comedy: put the punchline wherever it has the most power.

      I totally agree that the passive voice can be better. But I use it more than I probably should.

      It’s like rhyming in poetry. It can be used well or really poorly.


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