How to Use Active Voice to Strengthen Your Writing
Out of all different tips we implement when trying to strengthen our writing, there's one recommendation we often neglect: avoid passive voice. It's not grammatically incorrect. Still, passive voice makes us look less confident. It dilutes the clear message and leads to excessive wording.
The sentences written in active have a simpler logical flow. As kids, we were only using active. Kids would say "a dog bit me" rather than "I was bitten by a dog". Passive sentences have more words. Remember this golden rule of writing: a clear message has as few words as possible.
Even in academic writing, which is quite complex, active voice sounds better. If you check the content written by the experts from https://xpertwriters.com/ , you'll notice that professional writers use passive only when it's absolutely necessary.
Today, we'll give you few tips that will trigger your active mode in writing.
Check Your Own Writing and Identify the PassivesCan you find an essay, article, or email you've written before? See? That was a reasonable use of passive.
Find that content and check it. You'll probably find few sentences in passive voice. For now, just identify them. If you notice there's too much passive in your writing, it's time to change that habit.
Try to Transform Those Sentences in Active
We'll stay with the piece you chose for the previous exercise a bit longer. You already identified the passive. For this step, try to transform them into active voice. To make that happen, you'll need to identify the agent in the sentence. Who is performing the action?
I was bitten by a dog.
In that sentence, a dog is the agent. This part of the sentence usually comes after by in passive voice. You'll turn the agent into the subject of the sentence. In other words, you'll start the sentence with it.
A dog bit me.
See? Simple. Now do that with your own sentences!
If There's No Agent, Find It!
Sometimes the agent is missing in a passive sentence. In such case, you'll have to figure it out when transforming it into active voice.
The results of a research study were published yesterday.
If there's no by, you'll have to find out who published those results and use that as a subject in the sentence.
Scientists from The Harvard School of Medicine published the results of a research study yesterday.
Now, this is strange because the active sentence is longer than the passive one. Didn't we say to use as few words as possible? Not when clarity is in question. The active sentence is much clearer, since it identifies the subject. In the example with passive voice, it's not clear who published the results of that study. You don't want to leave the reader wondering.
Use an App
You just wrote something and you don't have time to go through every single sentence? The smartest thing to do would be to edit and proofread your writing every single time. When you're in a hurry, however, an app can help. Try the following ones:
If You're Translating Something, Keep the Passive
If you're translating an essay, article, or anything else from another language, you'll have to credit the author. This means you can't change their message, tone, or voice. Keep the passive voice right where it is.
If, on the other hand, you're editing or revising someone else's work, you can suggest improvements with active voice. Explain that it will improve the clarity and effect of their piece. If they don't object, you should definitely make those improvements.
Use Active Whenever You Want to Be Clear and Direct
Whenever you're trying to convey a clear message, your writing and speech should be direct, simple, and easy to understand. This means you'll have to use active and avoid passive voice as much as possible. If you're used to passive, it will take a lot of practice.
Stay conscious about the way you speak and write. Practice! Check your writing every single time. If you get used to writing in active, the speech will follow.
Are you ready for some exercises? Follow the tips above and you'll instantly strengthen your writing!
Guest Author: Susan Saurel is a teacher and writer from Texas. She is ready to share the experience she got with her readers. You may follow Susan on Twitter or LinkedIn.