Dictionary.com Word FAQs
What is the difference between passive and active sentences?
Active vs. passive is dictated by the verbs used. For example, "Picasso painted a picture" uses an active verb. "The picture was painted by Picasso" uses a passive verb. You should generally avoid writing in the passive voice as it is a more roundabout way of writing and you should try to be direct. The times when it is more appropriate to use the passive voice are: 1) for emphasis in a punch line, when you can put the one performing the action at the end of the sentence; and 2) for a sentence when the person who performed the action is not mentioned, e.g., for "The criminal has been imprisoned," where the author of the sentence does not mention who did the actual imprisoning.