Changing Verbs From Passive to Active

A Sentence-Revision Exercise

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In traditional grammar, the term passive voice refers to a type of sentence or clause in which the subject receives the action of the verb, while in active voice the subject performs or causes the action expressed by the verb.

In this exercise, you will practice changing verbs from the passive voice to the active voice by turning the subject of a passive verb into the direct object of an active verb.


Revise each of the following sentences by changing the verb from the passive voice to the active voice. Here is an example:

Original sentence:
The city was nearly destroyed by the hurricane.
Revised sentence:
The hurricane nearly destroyed the city.

When you're done, compare your revised sentences with those below.

Sentences In Passive Voice

  1. The school was struck by lightning.​
  2. This morning the burglar was arrested by the police.​
  3. One type of air pollution is caused by hydrocarbons.​
  4. An elaborate supper for the miners was prepared by Mr. Patel and his children.​
  5. The cookies were stolen by the Mad Hatter.​
  6. New York City's Central Park was designed in 1857 by F.L. Olmsted and Calbert Vaux.​
  7. It was decided by the court that the contract was invalid.​
  8. The first commercially successful portable vacuum cleaner was invented by a janitor who was allergic to dust.​
  9. After Leonardo da Vinci's death, the Mona Lisa was purchased by King Francis I of France.​
  10. The allegorical novel Animal Farm was written by British author George Orwell during World War II.

Sentences in Active Voice

  1. Lightning struck the school.​
  2. This morning the police arrested the burglar.​
  3. Hydrocarbons cause one type of air pollution.​
  4. Mr. Patel and his children prepared an elaborate supper for the miners.​
  5. The Mad Hatter stole the cookies.​
  6. F.L. Olmsted and Calbert Vaux designed New York City's Central Park in 1857.​
  7. The court decided that the contract was invalid.​
  8. A janitor who was allergic to dust invented the first commercially successful portable vacuum cleaner.​
  9. King Francis I of France purchased the Mona Lisa after Leonardo da Vinci's death.​
  10. British author George Orwell wrote the allegorical novel Animal Farm during World War II.

You'll notice that this small modification makes a significant difference in the tone of each sentence. There is a place for both active and passive voice in writing, so it's important to have an understanding of each style in order to use both effectively.