Active vs. Passive Voice/Post-Class Activities

From UBC Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Version 1

Active and Passive Voice: Student Post-Class Activities

These post-class activities have been designed to give you further practice in spotting sentences written in the active and passive voices, writing in the different styles of voice, and choosing the style appropriately depending on the content of your writing.


Questions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (1 mark each, 5 marks total)

For these questions, read each sentence below and decide whether it is:


A. Written in the active voice first and the passive voice second
B. Written in the passive voice first and the active voice second
C. Written in the active voice only
D. Written in the passive voice only.


Question 1 (1 mark)

Lucy convinced her brother to take the survey she developed for statistics, but she was later informed by her professor that such a move is a type of bias.


Question 2 (1 mark)

Mother lions carry their cubs from place to place before they walk and run everywhere on their own.


Question 3 (1 mark)

Frogs are considered to be indicator species by scientists, as their relative presence or absence indicates the health of the particular ecosystem.


Question 4 (1 mark)

Sediments are formed by the weathering of rocks, precipitation reactions, or other biological processes.


Question 5 (1 mark)

Meteorites that hit the Earth cause impact craters that are approximately ten times larger than the diameter of the meteorite.


Questions 6 and 7 (2 marks each, 4 marks total)

Study the sentences below, which are written in either the passive or active voice. Your task for these questions is to decide which voice is more effective for the given topic. Copy your answer (1 mark) and justify (in a few words) why you chose this sentence (1 mark). Hint: Choose one of the two sentences for each question and state whether it is active or passive, before saying why you think it is more suitable than the other version.


Question 6 (2 marks)

A. The Human Genome project was completed in 2003, two years ahead of schedule.
B. Many international organizations worked together to complete the Human Genome Project in 2003, two years ahead of schedule.


Question 7 (2 marks)

A. An unknown group of individuals dumped hundreds of pollutants in the river over the weekend, which is a concern for wildlife biologists.
B. Hundreds of pollutants were dumped into the river over the weekend, which is a concern for wildlife biologists.


Questions 8, 9, and 10 (2 marks each, 6 marks total)

Read the three active voice sentences below. Now re-write each one in the passive voice (1 mark) but try hard to use fewer words than in the original sentences without losing important/necessary detail (1 mark). This will give you practice in writing concisely even when you have to use the passive voice. For each answer, simply include your re-written statement and the word count. Hint: In reality, you may not want to write these sentences in the passive voice, as they may be more appropriate in the active voice. However, as in the pre-class activities, this question will give you practice in re-writing sentences in the opposite style of voice, which is an important skill to master.


Question 8 (2 marks)

Animals sometimes alter their natural behaviour when researchers tag them with monitoring equipment because the equipment often increases drag. Hint: Try to use fewer than 19 words.


Question 9 (2 marks)

Tagged research equipment causes even more drag for juvenile animals, as compared to adults. Hint: Try to use fewer than 14 words.


Question 10 (2 marks)

Research equipment will collect more realistic data when researchers select tags that have the least impact on the target organism. Hint: Try to use fewer than 20 words.


Question 11, 12, and 13 (2 marks each, 6 marks total)

These questions have been designed to give you practice in:


  1. Reducing the length of passive voice sentences to make them more concise
  2. Changing them to active voice sentences to further reduce the word count.


To begin, read the passive voice sentences below and try to remove any unnecessary words from them while keeping them in the passive voice (1 mark each). Hint: Simply remove words at this stage, rather than re-writing sentences. Then try to re-write these sentences in the active voice (1 mark each).


Question 11 (2 marks)

A waterproof, photo-luminescent material, which was designed by researchers as a glow-in-the-dark coating for roads, has been created by a UK-based company.


Question 12 (2 marks)

During the day, light is absorbed by the material resulting in a glow to be emitted from the material at night.


Question 13 (2 marks)

In addition to making roads safer at night, it is thought by the company, as well as current consumers, that the coating could provide enough light so that street lamps could be removed to save money and energy.


Question 14 (4 marks)

Choose a topic in science that you are very interested in and write a paragraph about it, incorporating three or four sentences. Note that you do not need to write a long answer (less than 150 words will be fine), but make sure you write at least one sentence in the active voice and at least one in the passive voice. Try to make sure you choose the style of voice to be appropriate for each sentence though!

This activity is designed to give you practice in moving interchangeably between the active and passive voice in sentences in the same paragraph, and to make you think more about the circumstances in which it is appropriate to use each style.

Version 2

Active vs. Passive Voice: Student Post-Class Activities

These post-class activities have been designed to give you further practice in spotting sentences written in the active and passive voices, writing in the different styles of voice, and choosing the style appropriately depending on the content of your writing.


Questions 1, 2, 3 and 4 (1 mark each, 4 marks total)

Answer the following questions that focus on the differences between the active and passive voices, and on the philosophy of using each style.


Question 1 (1 mark)

Which of the scenarios below is a more suitable candidate to be written in the passive voice?


Scenario A: You are writing about the art of Leonardo Da Vinci after visiting a gallery showcasing his work.
Scenario B: You are writing about some graffiti you discovered on your locker but do not know who drew it.


Question 2 (1 mark)

Justify (in a few words) why you choose either Scenario A or Scenario B as the more suitable candidate in Question 1 (above).


Question 3 (1 mark)

Complete the following sentence:


Generally speaking, using the active voice in scientific writing will result in:

A: More concise sentences with less specific detail in them
B: More concise sentences with at least as much specific detail in them
C: Less concise sentences with at least as much specific detail in them
D: Less concise sentences with less specific detail in them


Question 4 (1 mark)

Study the following sentence:


“Ben was encouraged by his friends to run for science president, but he decided not to make an official application.”


This sentence features:

A: The active voice only
B: The passive voice only
C: The active voice first and the passive voice second
D: The passive voice first and the active voice second


Question 5 (4 marks)

Read the four sentences written in the active voice below. For each blank space, match the appropriate reason that explains why it would be wise to write the same/similar information in the passive voice. The reasons are below the sentences on this page.


Michael made the critical mistake of forgetting to add warm water to the tank after 30 minutes had passed. This sentence would be better if written in the passive voice, because it [?????].

The overall trend in the data clearly shows that activity rate increases when temperature also increases. This sentence would be better if written in the passive voice, because it [?????].

Some specialist group, individual, or university team should clean the laboratory. This sentence would be better if written in the passive voice, because it [?????].

Somebody with access to the laboratory stole my cell cultures yesterday evening. This sentence would be better if written in the passive voice, because it [?????].


Match the following reasons to the sentences by copying and pasting them into the correct blank space in the answer box:

Reason 1: includes unnecessary detail to confuse the main purpose of the sentence.
Reason 2: needlessly highlights an unknown ‘doer’ of the action.
Reason 3: makes a subjective statement sound objective.
Reason 4: makes the statement unnecessarily personal.


The above question was designed to highlight that there are occasions when using the passive voice is not only acceptable but actually preferable to the active voice. Whenever you communicate anything in science (and in any format), your number one goal should be to make sure it is easy to understand. For this reason, writing concise sentences is a very important skill to master. Having said this, you can very occasionally integrate active and passive voice sentences into the same paragraphs (and even sentences) in the right circumstances.


Questions 6, 7, 8 and 9 (2 marks each, 8 marks total)

Re-read the four active voice sentences in Question 5. Now re-write each one in the passive voice but try hard to use fewer or the same number of words as in the original sentences without losing important/necessary detail. This will give you practice in writing concisely even when you have to use the passive voice.

For each answer, simply include your re-written statement and the word count.


Question 6 (2 marks)

Sentence 1: “Michael made the critical mistake of forgetting to add warm water to the tank after 30 minutes had passed.”


Question 7 (2 marks)

Sentence 2: “The overall trend clearly shows that activity rate increases when temperature also increases.”


Question 8 (2 marks)

Sentence 3: “Some specialist group, individual, or university team should clean the laboratory.”


Question 9 (2 marks)

Sentence 4: “Somebody with access to the laboratory stole my cell cultures yesterday evening.”


Questions 10, 11, 12 and 13 (1 mark each, 4 marks total)

Read the short paragraph below about the effect of randomness in dictating how many individuals of each species are found in a given environment at any time. For questions 10, 11, 12 and 13, you need to consider each sentence separately and say whether the active and/or passive voices are used (and in which order).

For example, for each question you must say whether the sentence features:

Option A: The passive voice only
Option B: The active voice only
Option C: The passive voice first and the active voice second
Option D: The active voice first and the passive voice second


“In any given environment, the number of individuals present that belong to different species will be dictated by a combination of abiotic and biotic factors. For example, predators reduce the numbers of herbivores, whereas favourable environmental conditions cause populations to grow. However, scientists fail to predict exact numbers; this is because random events that cannot be predicted by anyone also impact populations. Any random event can cause the numbers of one species to increase, while another species can be negatively impacted by the same unpredictable event.”


Question 10 (1 mark)

Sentence 1: In any given environment, the number of individuals present that belong to different species will be dictated by a combination of abiotic and biotic factors.


Question 11 (1 mark)

Sentence 2: For example, predators reduce the numbers of herbivores, whereas favourable environmental conditions cause populations to grow.


Question 12 (1 mark)

Sentence 3: However, scientists fail to predict exact numbers; this is because random events that cannot be predicted by anyone also impact populations.


Question 13 (1 mark)

Sentence 4: Any random event can cause the numbers of one species to increase, while another species can be negatively impacted by the same unpredictable event.”


Question 14 (5 marks)

Choose a topic in science that you are very interested in and write a paragraph abut it, incorporating five or six sentences. Note that you do not need to write a long answer (100-150 words will be fine). Make sure you write sentences in both the active and passive voice, but make sure you choose the style of voice to be appropriate for each sentence.

This activity is designed to give you practice in moving interchangeably between the active and passive voice in sentences in the same paragraph, and to make you think more about the circumstances in which it is appropriate to use each style.