An important factor that holds your readers’ attention from the get-go is the voice your article/book/post is written in. Readers prefer active voice sentences and writing in the active voice communicates our message effectively. The active voice makes your writing stronger, less wordy and tiresome. It clearly identifies an action and who is performing that action.
On the other hand, writing in the passive voice which is a common mistake that could easily slip into your writing fails to hold your readers’ interest and simply makes your writing boring and hard to read.
Mastering the skill of writing in the active voice is easier than you anticipated and less tedious than finding those little grammatical errors and typos. One way to know if you are writing in the active or passive voice is to find the subject of the sentence and decide if the subject is doing the action or being acted upon.
How to Recognize and Eliminate Passive Voice
In the active voice, your subject is doing the action.
- Jake ran past the man.
- Susan cooked the food.
In the passive voice, the subject is acted upon.
- The man was run past by Jake.
- The food was cooked by Susan.
Reading these two sentences you know that it doesn’t sound natural or seem right.
Another easy giveaway of the passive voice is to look for verbs stuck together. A passive voice adds other helping verbs such as ‘to be, being, has been, will be, are, is, was, were’ to a verb that could stand alone.
You can instantly fix your passive voice by rewriting your sentence so that the subject of your sentence comes before the verb.
Your active voice resembles spoken language. When we speak, we automatically speak in the active voice and our writing should mirror this.
For instance, you would never say:
My bicycle (subject) was ridden (action) to the park by me.
Instead, you would say:
I (subject) rode (action) my bicycle (object) to the park.
8 thoughts on “Raise your writing bar – Master how to eliminate that passive voice.”
This article came right on time. I must work on using the active voice more often.
Unless you have a character who always refers to themselves in the 3rd person.
Good point and important for writers too. Thanks for sharing
Reblogged this on BrewNSpew and commented:
Sharing information on how to eliminate that passive voice from Jacqueline-
Excellent information. Reblogged,
These are all important points. I do use higher level words, quite often, when I want to elevate a discussion. Many times, though, you’re right: Simpler is better.
I thank God for the old version of Word 3.1 that included the feature that checked grammar and passive phrases. I was amazed at how clumsy I found my work and how eliminating passive phrases streamlines I thought right into reality. Excellent post, Jacqueline.
Thank you so useful
This is so useful. I am learning.