Each Flipped Learning Module (FLM) is a set of short videos and online activities that can be used (in whole or in part) to free up class time from content delivery for greater student interaction. At the end of the module, students are asked to fill out a brief survey, in which we adopt the minute paper strategy. In this approach, students are asked to submit their response to two brief questions regarding their knowledge of the module.
In this FLM, students are asked to view three videos introducing the passive and active voices, their construction and usage.
transitive and intransitive verbs, direct object, passive construction, register
- Introduction to Passive and Active Voice
- Definition of Voice
Construction of the Passive and Active Voice
- Transitive Verbs
- Intransitive Verbs
- Verbs that can act as either
- Formation of Passive Voice
- Alternative Passive constructions
- General Preference for Active Voice
- Use of Passive
Video 1: Overview
Passive Voice Online Activity 1
Answer the following questions in either the passive or active voice:
Ex. Who said “I Have a Dream”?
Martin Luther King said “I Have a Dream.” (active – focuses on actor)
Ex. What was measured?
The chemicals were measured. (passive – focuses on action or direct object)
- Who proposed the Theory of Evolution? [Darwin]
- What was explained?
- What happened to the treaty?
- When did the speaker arrive?
- How were the miners rescued?
Video 2: Construction of the Passive and Active Voice
Passive Voice Online Activity 2
Identify each of the following verbs as transitive or intransitive and create a sentence for each in the passive and active voice (if possible):
- To exist
- To read
- To happen
- To love
- To occur
Video 3: Usage
Passive Voice Survey
- What was the one most important thing you learned from this module?
- Do you have any unanswered questions for me?
Passive Voice In-Class Activity: Option 1
Below is a summary of an essay by the journalist Jeff Jacoby called “Watching Oprah from behind the Veil.” In pairs, have students analyze the uses of the active and passive in the following paragraphs. Do they agree with the writer’s choices? Why or why not?
In his essay “Watching Oprah from behind the Veil” Jeff Jacoby compares the life of the women of Saudi Arabia, who are oppressed by patriarchy, to the life of Oprah Winfrey, who is idolized by them. Jacoby talks about obstacles in the lives of both, first describing Saudi women and how they are treated unequally. Jacoby believes the lives of Saudi women are miserable as they are deprived of basic human rights and have no rights to make independent decisions.
In contrast, Oprah is a self-made and influential billionaire; her confidence, self-improvement, and spirituality uplift others. Yet, it does not mean that she did not encounter hardships in her life. She was born to an unwed housemaid in pre-civil rights Mississippi, faced poverty in childhood, was sexually harassed, and left home as a teen.
However, as Jacoby points out, in spite of their obstacles, Saudi women’s lives differ from Oprah’s.
Oprah faced childhood struggles and had years of tough experiences, which she eventually overcame through her persistence and tenacity, but Arabian women are not allowed to take that move to improve their lives since they do not even have the fundamental rights. Nevertheless, according to Jacoby, Arabian women idolize Oprah because she provides new thinking to their confined and veiled existence, and Oprah’s encouragement makes Arabian women feel better in a gender-segregated society.
Passive Voice In-Class Activity: Option 2
Review the following pairs of sentences, each of which is grammatically correct. For each pair discuss the difference in voice and discuss why a write might use one over the other. (adapted from Language Power)
1a.The house was torn apart by a gas explosion.
1b.A gas explosion tore apart the house.
2a.The rebel opposition won the election.
2b.The election was won by the rebel opposition.
3a.The American White House was built by slaves.
3b.Slaves built the American White House.
4a.The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men.
4b.Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence.
5a.The Hippocratic Oath states that doctors must do no harm.
5b.The Hippocratic Oath states that no harm must be done by doctors.
Passive Voice In-Class Activity: Option 3
Below are two paragraphs describing use of the passive voice, the original from the Purdue OWL and the second a revision of it (created by the author of this module). Examine the use of the active and passive voices in each and discuss which you find most effective and why.
1a. Sometimes the use of passive voice can create awkward sentences. Also, overuse of passive voice throughout an essay can cause your prose to seem flat and uninteresting. In scientific writing, however, passive voice is more readily accepted since using it allows one to write without using personal pronouns or the names of particular researchers as the subjects of sentences. This practice helps to create the appearance of an objective, fact-based discourse because writers can present research and conclusions without attributing them to particular agents. Instead, the writing appears to convey information that is not limited or biased by individual perspectives or personal interests. (https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/active_and_passive_voice/more_about_passive_voice.html)
1b. Sometimes awkward sentences can be created by the use of passive voice. Also, prose can seem flat and uninteresting through the overuse of the passive voice. In scientific writing, however, passive voice is more readily accepted since using it allows one to write without using personal pronouns or the names of particular researchers as the subjects of sentences. The appearance of an objective, fact-based discourse is helped by this practice because writers can present research and conclusions without attributing them to particular agents. Instead information that is not limited or biased by individual perspectives or personal interests appears to be conveyed by the writing.
Passive Voice In-Class Activity: Option 4
Choose something you have written and identify and analyze any use of the passive voice. Why have you used it? Would the active voice be more effective? Do you think you have used active voice when the passive might be more appropriate?
Passive Voice Additional Online Activities
Passive Voice potential additional on-line activities
- Create a question that would logically follow from the following sentences:
Ex> The Titanic hit an iceberg.
What did the Titanic hit OR What happened to the Titanic?
Ex> The Liberty Bell was cracked.
What happened to the Liberty Bell?
- Romeo was banished.
- Juliet killed herself at the end of the play.
- Generals Grant and Lee signed the Treaty at Appomattox to end the Civil War.
- Rosa Parks sat in the front of the bus.
- Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968.
- Identify each of the following verbs as transitive or intransitive and create a sentence for each in the passive and active voice (if possible):
- To eat
- To deliver
- To escape
- To arrive
- To die
Celce-Murcia, Marianne and Diane Larsen-Freeman. The Grammar Book: An ESL/EFL Teacher’s Course. 2nd ed. Heinle and Heinle, 2005.
Ferris, Dana. Language Power: Tutorials for Writers. Bedford/St. Martins, 2014.
Hacker, Diane. Rules for Writers, 9th ed. Bedford/St. Martins, 2018.
Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage, 3rd. ed. Oxford, 2005.
Williams, Joseph M. and Gregory g. Colomb. Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace. 4th ed. Longman, 2012