26 May 2009
One of the easiest ways to make your writing zippity zip zip, is to use an active voice rather than a passive one.
So how does it work?
Ok, sentences have three basic elements: a subject, a verb and an object. With an active voice you have a person that performs an action, and something that is affected by that action:
David’s dad fixed his bike.
The subject is David’s dad. The verb is to fix. And the object is the bike.
Now with a passive voice, the bike has now become the subject of the sentence, to the point that David’s dad can be removed and it will still make sense:
The bike was fixed by David’s dad.
The bike was fixed.
Take a look at some more examples.
With the active voice the subject does the action and the object receives the action.
The teachers (subject) taught (verb) the children (object) in 3B hockey and football.
The shop assistant (subject) was helping (verb) the old man (object).
You (subject) should tell (verb) him (object).
With a passive voice the subject does nothing; it is now acted upon.
The children (subject) in 3B were taught (verb) hockey and football (by the teachers – the original subject and now the object).
The old man was helped (by the shop assistant).
He should be told (by you).
Be careful of starting a sentence with an active voice and then shifting to a passive voice.
We found the error in the accounts and the customer was notified immediately.
We found the error in the accounts and notified the customer immediately.
So when it comes to websites; sales letters; reports; emails; presentations; and any type of business writing – always use the active voice.
It makes your writing shorter, more direct, and whizzes your reader through the sentence