Monday, August 9, 2010

An Active Approach to Dismiss the Passive

While in undergrad, writing in passive voice was one of my ongoing struggles. For some reason, I was under the impression that variance was needed in sentence structure in order to display writing skill. Boy, was I clueless. I supposed that after a plethora of red markings and almost paragraphical passages, I began to see that I really had a struggle on my hand. I was only able to overcome passive writing by continuing to write. For those who may be unsure of what I mean by the active/passive voice, it is simply referring the positioning of the subject. A good analogy I used to help cure myself of this problem was "Don't let your subject be passively passed, but make it actively aggressive." Rule of thumb: don't allow your subject to be trampled upon by the verb, but MAKE it do something. With the exception of higher word count and longer sentences their are few benefits of writing in the passive voice, particularly in professionald and/or fiction writing. Consider the examples below.

It was decided upon by Jonathon to put his best foot forward. (passive)
Jonathan decided to put his place foot forward. (active)

Notice in this example that by making Jonathan the star of the sentence, we simply place Jonathan at the beginning of the sentence and allow the capable active verb "decided" to stand on its own.

Two more examples:

This morning, the cars were washed by the girls. (passive)
The girls washed the cars this morning. (active)

The English language will always be treasured by me. (passive)
I will always treasure the English language. (active)

Now, all of this isn't to say that the passive voice usage is not sometimes warranted, because it is. This is just an exercise to reinforce active writing. Exercising your ability to use the active voice makes for clearer ideas and more readable passages. So I implore you to get active in your pursuit to do away with passive phrases.

At Rasilliant Enterprises we are here to help you reach your highest level of clarity in writing and we have a solution to whatever your editorial need may be.

Have a great day!

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