Newspaper Headlines – Active or Passive?
Headlines in newspapers are very short. They usually do not include punctuation, articles, and auxiliary verbs.
Can you understand the headline here? Which of the below sentences is correct form of the headline?
- “Cameron accused as troubled charity fails” (the active voice, where Cameron is the agent doing the verb.)
- “Cameron is accused as troubled charity fails” (a passive voice, where Cameron is the object of the verb accused.)
The answer is… #2 — passive voice! The full sentence, written grammatically (with articles and punctuation) would be the following:
Camera is accused as his/the trouble charity fails.
Headlines are tricky, aren’t they? They can also be a great way to study the passive voice.
Task: Some of the headlines below are in the active voice and some are in the passive voice. Rewrite the headlines so that they are grammatically correct. This means inserting articles (a/an/the), punctuation (.,!), and the be verb if the sentence is passive. Good luck!
Note: To review the grammar for the passive voice, please visit our page on the passive voice and when to use it.
(Teachers: You can download the worksheet here to use in class: newspaper-headlines-passive.doc)
Toronto was/has been named ‘the most youthful’ city in the world. (Passive)
Taylor Swift wins the top prize at the American Music Awards. (Active)
World’s Biggest Bookstore sold to developer
The world’s biggest bookstore was/has been sold to a developer. (Passive)
Two baby baboons were born at the Brooklyn zoo. (Passive)
The Scottish government reveals an/their independence plan. (Active)
The world’s first electric helicopter takes flight in Germany. (Active)
Obama was/has been elected president for a second term. (Passive)
Mothers are asked nearly 300 questions a day. (Passive)
2000 workers were laid off by (the) Ford motor company last month. (Passive)
Please feel free to write comments or questions below about the passive exercise.
– Matthew Barton / Writer at Englishcurrent.com