Active voice—a sentence structure in which the subject carries out the action.
Passive voice—a sentence structure in which the subject receives the action.
Active sentences tend to be shorter, more precise, and easier to understand. This is especially true because passive sentences can be written in ways that do not tell the reader who the doer of the action is.
Overall, business communication resources tend to recommend active voice as the preferred style.
Active voice is the clear choice for a variety of contexts, but not all. When you want to deemphasize the doer of the action, you may write, “Ten late arrivals were recorded this month” and not even mention who was late. The passive form doesn’t place blame or credit, so it can be more diplomatic in some contexts. Passive voice allows the writer to avoid personal references or personal pronouns (he, she, they) to create a more objective tone. There are also situations where the doer of the action is unknown, as in “graffiti was painted on the side of our building last night.”