We've stated in another tip that one of the best ways to illustrate a point or an argument is to use examples. Therefore, consider the following:
- "Jack jumped over the fence" - uses active verbs.
- "The fence was jumped over by Jack" - contains passive verbs.
Notice how the first example that uses the active voice arguably has more authority, strength, bite, and impact. While the second passive voice example seems weak and clumsy. Passive verbs remind me of the Charles Dickens' arguably most insincere character Uriah Heep.
To understand active and passive voice, consider:
- When communicating in the active voice, the action comes from the person or thing from which it logically proceeds; the subject is the doer. So in the first example above, Jack is the subject is Jack who starts the action (... jumped over the fence).
- In a sentence that uses the passive voice, the subject undergoes the action of the verb. Referring the second example above, we can see how the subject, Jack, is affected by the verb (... was jumped over by ...)
Now here's the most important point I want to make:
Why Use the Active Voice Whenever Possible?
Here's a list of benefits that you can enjoy when you choose the active voice:
- Use active (voice) verbs, as shown in the first example above, whenever you want to provide the best style of writing, probably to apply to most of your communication projects and especially when creating business, technical documentation, marketing materials, web pages.
- Active voice is more direct and less ambiguous than passive voice.
- In most instances, fewer words are required to make the meaning of your sentence or phrase clear when you use the active voice.
- Active voice verbs usually provide for a better overall commanding impact for your message.