Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Word Doctor: Be Active

Compare these sentences:

“The bottle was opened by Spencer. “

It sounds awkward because it is. People don’t speak in passive voice, which is why writing in passive voice doesn’t resonate with readers. Active voice orders sentences more naturally:

“Spencer opened the bottle.”

Notice how “James saw the bird fly over the man and ruin his day” sounds much better than, “The bird that flew over the man and ruined his day was seen by James.”

Avoid passive verbs and you’ll avoid passive voice. There’s no need to be passive about being active.

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