Posts Tagged ‘90% voice rule’

Active voice and passive voice

There are dif­fer­ent kinds of voices like active voice, pas­sive voice, adju­ta­tive voice, anti pas­sive voice, applica­tive voice, causative voice etc. But we gen­er­ally use active voice and pas­sive voice in our gen­eral con­ver­sa­tions. Let us know what these voices are and how to use them.

You might be hav­ing doubts regard­ing the under­ly­ing usage of two forms of voices. If both con­vey the same mean­ing and are inter­change­able, what is the neces­sity of both? Let’s answer this ques­tion. Also, we con­sider emer­gen­cies of voices and sit­u­a­tions appro­pri­ate to them.

It is likely that you are forced in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions forced to use only active voice at least in your writ­ings. This is some­what true but not a rule. There are some sit­u­a­tions when the pas­sive voice is appro­pri­ate, and some­times when it is even essential.


It is best to think of this as not like a rule but a mat­ter of context-sensitivity. That is, you are absolutely allowed to use pas­sive voice in your writ­ing, pro­vided you are aware of some basic things which are really the basics of why there exist two forms of voices.

Per­haps, the rule against pas­sive voice works fine in most of the times. By impos­ing such rules, the instruc­tors can be sure that you do not screw the write-up by inap­pro­pri­ate usage of voice just for fill­ing the pages.

What exactly is the pas­sive voice?

Active voice is the straight for­ward and the pow­er­ful way of expres­sion. On the other hand, pas­sive voice, as the name indi­cates, con­veys only par­tial infor­ma­tion of the sen­tence. A pas­sive state­ment often ignores the agent, also called the sub­ject of the sen­tence. Even if the sub­ject is men­tioned in a pas­sive voice sen­tence, the empha­sis is not on the sub­ject, but on the object of the sentence.

Exam­ple: Errors were made.

Also remem­ber that in case of proverbs and uni­ver­sal facts, the object is taken anonymous.

Exam­ple: The sun rises in the east.

It is said that the sun rises in the east.

In most for for­mal write-up cases, we are not allowed to use the pas­sive voice. But, some­times, the agent of the action has to be absolutely omit­ted like the project reports. There, the object mat­ters much to the reader and not the sub­ject. Hence, we avoid words like ‘I’, ‘me’, etc .The pas­sive voice works exactly for such situations.


The 90% rule:

Even though, in some sit­u­a­tions the pas­sive voice is required, it is not rec­om­mended to use it very often. It is gen­er­ally expected that at least 90% of verbs used should be in active voice such that the write-up is not much dis­turbed by too much of pas­sive verbs.

In fact, it is essen­tial that each and every pas­sive verb should be jus­ti­fied before it is used in a sen­tence. In other way, when you write an essay this time, and every time you tend to use a pas­sive verb, check for the above con­di­tions if rule is jus­ti­fied from the given cases.

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