Improve your Writing Tip #3 - Favour active verbs

May 10, 2013, 0 Comments

Improve your writing

Using the active voice instead of the passive voice is the single best thing you can do to improve your writing. The active voice injects a sense of importance and urgency into a piece of writing. Writing full of the passive voice seems dull and lifeless. Many European languages, such as French and Spanish rarely use the passive voice. Sadly, in English, use of the passive voice is more common. This often leads to dull, lifeless writing.

Consider this sentence:

The ball was thrown over the fence by John.

This sentence is in the passive voice. The person or thing doing the action (‘John) follows the action (‘was thrown’). Using the active voice turns the sentence around and puts the ‘actor’ first. This makes the sense clearer and the sentence shorter:

John threw the ball over the fence.

Often in the passive voice the actor is completely omitted:

The ball was thrown over the fence.

Also be aware that the passive voice can sometimes be reduced, or hidden:

The ball, thrown over the fence, was later found.

Is a reduction of:

The ball (that was) thrown over the fence, was later found.

ProWritingAid will highlight all the passive verb that you have used in your text so you can quickly find them and turn them into active verbs. Try our writing improvement software.

Next improve your writing tip: Improve your Writing Tip #4 - Vary your sentence length

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