From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about a grammatical voice. For the Seattle skyscraper, see Active Voice Building.
For advice and arguments about the use of active or passive voice, see English passive voice.
Active voice is a grammatical voice common in many of the world's languages. It is the unmarked voice for clauses featuring
a transitive verb in nominative–accusative languages, including English and most other Indo-European languages.
Active voice is used in a clause whose subject expresses the agent of the main verb. That is, the subject does the action
designated by the verb. A sentence whose agent is marked as grammatical subject is called an active sentence. In
contrast, a sentence in which the subject has the role of patient or theme is called a passive sentence, and its verb is
expressed in passive voice. Many languages have both an active and a passive voice; this allows for greater flexibility in
sentence construction, as either the semantic agent or patient may take the syntactic role of subject.
In the following examples the active and passive voice are illustrated with pairs of sentences using the same transitive verb.
Language Active voice Passive voice
English The hunter saw the deer. The deer was seen by the hunter.
Brackett a écrit ce livre. (Brackett wrote this Ce livre a été écrit par Brackett. (This book was written by
Japanese 犬がかんだ。 (A dog bit [someone].) 犬にかまれた。 (By a dog [I] was bitten.)
Der Hund biss den Postboten. (The dog bit Der Postbote wurde vom Hund gebissen. (The postman was
the postman.) bitten by the dog.)
1. ^ O'Grady, William, John Archibald, Mark Aronoff, and Janie Rees-Miller (eds.) (2001). Contemporary Linguistics: An Introduction
Fourth edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's. ISBN 0-312-24738-9
2. ^ Saeed, John (1997). Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-20035-5
via Active voice