Can you change the voice of a paragraph from sentence to sentence?I have this: General Gage was ordered to deploy troops to Massachusetts. He acted on April 18, 1775 with 700 men on Boston Common...

Can you change the voice of a paragraph from sentence to sentence?

I have this: General Gage was ordered to deploy troops to Massachusetts. He acted on April 18, 1775 with 700 men on Boston Common marching onto the rebel.

Here the "was ordered" is a passive structure. Can you do that and then in the next line change to active again? I prefer to also change voice between paragraphs and sentences. Is this allowed in grammar?

Asked on by ssdt

1 Answer | Add Yours

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The idea of switching between active and passive voice within a paragraph is not only allowed in grammar, but in my opinion, recommended.  I can see where you might be confused however, because of all the lessons learned about not switching verb tenses within a paragraph (or essay) and maintaining a uniform point-of-view.  Active and passive voice are not under the same rules of uniformity as verbs and point-of-view.

To put it simply, active voice in a sentence makes the subject of the sentence commit the action.  In a passive voice sentence, the subject is acted upon.  Within one paragraph, a variety of passive and active sentences may very well still revolve around the same topic.

Many experts suggest that when writing argumentatively, sentences written in active voice tend to sound stronger and more authoritative.  This is mostly true, in my opinion, and I very often make suggestions for student writing to reflect this.  Active voice sentences can also be kept much shorter, which drives a point home quicker.  However, an entire essay full of sentences written only in the active voice, could very well come across as simplistic, elementary, and lacking complexity of thought.

Your example sounds great so far.  Keep going!

We’ve answered 318,974 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question