I know that "The children ate ice cream"(active form) is preferred over

"Ice Cream was eaten at the party"(passive form)

Similarly for these sentences too

Awkward: "Some people painted pictures of animals on ancient walls."

Better:   "Pictures of animals were painted."

But i need to know Why?

Are there some other sentences too and also

How do i get to know which is preferred?

  • 3
    Read this: grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/passive.htm Aug 28, 2015 at 7:30
  • RE: Are there some other sentences too? There are probably infinitely many sentences that could be constructed as examples.
    – J.R.
    Aug 28, 2015 at 8:42
  • It is not considered better for all contexts. There are times when the passive voice is probably better.
    – user20792
    Aug 28, 2015 at 15:30
  • Read some stories to get a feeling for active and passive. It is not a question of better or not. It is a thing of frequency. Active sentences are more frequent than passive sentences. "I was watching TV" is the normal thing. "TV was being watched by me" would sound abnormal because there is no need to change the normal direction of the verb.
    – rogermue
    Aug 28, 2015 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


Passive constructions omit the agent of the action. In many situations, the agent is clearly recognized despite its not being explicitly stated, as it would be in an active construction, or the agent is not relevant, so that its omission results in no loss of clarity:

At this stage in the experiment, salicylic acid was introduced.

This bicycle has been ridden so much that it already needs new tires.

The convicted criminal was sent to jail.

However, in many other circumstances, a passive construction with an implicit agent does result in a loss of clarity or in incompleteness, because a piece of information is missing from the statement.

The leak in the toxic waste storage tank was never repaired.


Chemical Waste Mismanagement Inc never repaired the leak in the toxic waste storage tank.

The veterinarian was told to give the horse a shot of noradrenaline 30 minutes before the big race.


The organized crime boss told the veterinarian to give the horse a shot of noradrenaline 30 minutes before the big race.

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