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Lesson 3 – Active and Passive Verbs


Language Arts  


9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Writing and Grammar Unit – Lesson 3
By – John Foley
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – 9-12

Unit Contents: Introduction
Lesson 1:   Writing by Ear
Lesson 2:   Nouns
Lesson 3:   Active and Passive Verbs


Lesson 4:   Modify in Moderation
Lesson 5:   Coordinating Conjunctions
Lesson 6:   Simple Sentences
Lesson 7:   Compound and Complex Sentences
Lesson 8:   Periods and Commas
Lesson 9:   Logic and Questions
Lesson 10: Interjections and Exclamation Points
Study Guide
Writing and Grammar Test

Lesson 3: Active & Passive Verbs

      Use active verbs unless there is no reasonable way to get around using passive verbs.


Joe hit him

      ” is active and strong.

He was hit by Joe

    ” is passive and weak.
      Use creative verbs rather than settling for ones that are merely serviceable.


A red handkerchief was tucked in his pocket

      is weaker and less interesting than

A red handkerchief blossomed from his pocket

      Stephen King, best known as a horror novelist, offers some excellent advice on active and passive construction in his memoir

On Writing



The timid fellow writes, “The meeting will be held at seven o’clock” because that somehow says to him, “Put it this way and people will believe you really know.” Purge this quisling thought! Don’t be a muggle! Throw back your shoulders, stick out your chin, and put that meeting in charge! Write “The meeting’s at seven.” There, by God! Don’t you feel better?

      Rewrite the following passage using strong, active verbs. And don’t be a muggle!

Randy was the subject of discipline by his science teacher. It wasn’t the first time he had faced corrective action. In middle school, the record for detentions was held by him. This time, the options for Randy may be worse – he could even be expelled. Ten days at home were required for students who were expelled. Fun after-school activities like baseball wouldn’t be allowed, either.


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