I am a writer and coincidentally a lover of words and the English language in all its extraordinary diversity and complexity. It’s been some time since school for me and I recently noticed that the grammar checker shows a lot more blue and red than white!
So in a bid to make my emails sound more professional, my functional specs to sound a little less robotic and my writing a little more pleasurable to read, I am embarking on a series of refreshers on the basic rules of English writing.
In pursuit of excellence, I give you my first bit of research.
The Passive Voice.
When we write in the Passive voice, the sentences are less likely to move our reader to action; they are likely to be much wordier and clumsier. The passive voice is a type of sentence construction where the subject and object switch places: rather than the subject acting on the object, the object of the action becomes, itself, the subject. <<A great article on the Passive Voice>>
The passive voice: I was hugged by mum.
The active voice: Mum Hugged me.
With the active voice, the sentence is warmer and more straightforward to understand. Cognitively, complex sentence structures require more effort to understand and are more likely to be misread or misunderstood.
How do we avoid passive sentences? Firstly, try swapping the actor and the receiver around. In the example above, the main difference is exactly that; “mum”, the “actor”, comes first.
Secondly, change the verb, what my Secondary Modern Teacher used to call “the doing word” – use an active word, rather than an inactive word.
The passive voice: The book was written by my best friend, Elizabeth.
The active voice: My best friend Elizabeth wrote the book
By changing Written for wrote and reworking the sentence, it becomes active and vibrant.
Be good peeps, and if you can’t be good, be awesome!