Although using passive voice is not a grammatical error, it is discouraged by most editors. My previous sentence is an example of passive voice.
Passive voice refers to a sentence where the person or thing doing the action is not mentioned in the usual spot for the subject, which is in front of the verb. Instead, it follows the verb, leaving the object of the sentence in the subject’s normal place. You can easily identify a passive sentence by its use of a form of the verb “to be,” followed by a past participle. Often the person or thing doing the action will also appear in a phrase that starts with “by.”
To re-write my first sentence in active voice, I simply need to switch the word order: Although using passive voice is not a grammatical error, most editors discourage it.
Passive voice can effectively emphasize the object of a sentence, and scientific writing may use it to stress the objectivity of the report. It also is useful when the actual subject isn’t known, or wants to be distanced from whatever happened. For example, a politician might prefer saying “The war has started” rather than “We started the war.” The emphasis is placed on the object (war) in that example instead of on the real subject (We).
Additional information on passive voice is available at: