Active and passive voice: anglerfish

2 - The Grammar Bit

The Grammar Bit!

Read the first three sentences opposite, which are in the active voice. Notice how the agent of the action, the subject (bold), always appears before the receiver of the action, the object (underlined). This has the effect of putting the focus on the subject, and it gives each sentence a very strong, clear voice.

Now read the three related sentences, which are in the passive voice. You’ll notice that in each sentence, the agent of the action has moved to the end and the receiver of the action has moved to the front (becoming the new subject). Notice how the word ‘by’ is commonly used in the passive voice to indicate who performed the action.

When writing in the passive voice, you may decide to leave out the agent of the action altogether (indicated by the brackets).This is known as the agentless passive! Discuss the effect of this with your talk partner.

Scintillating Sentences

Active voice

1) The submarine pilot switched off the machine’s headlights.

2) The luminous lure attracted prey from far and wide.

3) The deep sea anglerfish swallowed the squid whole.

Passive voice

1) The machine’s headlights were switched off (by the submarine pilot).

2) Prey was attracted from far and wide (by the luminous lure).

3)The squid was swallowed whole (by the deep sea anglerfish).


What’s an anglerfish’s favourite song?
“This Little Light of Mine”