Why Is the Passive Voice Bad?
Whether you're writing a paper, novel, or press release, being able to identify passive voice is essential. See why passive voice is bad
You’ve likely heard that passive voice is an incorrect way to form a sentence, which can be true. Whether you’re writing a research paper, novel, or press release, being able to identify it is essential. Using passive voice checkers and key ways to identify passive voice, you can tailor your text as needed.
What Is Passive Voice?
In a sentence, you will find that passive voice refers to a subject and an action. The subject will be receiving the verb’s action, compared to active voice when the subject acts on the verb.
Although it is frowned upon in some communities, writers use a passive voice in moderation. You’ll find a passive voice has a form of “to be” in the sentence and a verb’s past participle.
Often, a generated preposition is at the end of the sentence, which may sound complicated. However, with experience, detecting passive voice in a sentence is easier than you think.
An Example of Passive Voice
First, let’s construct an example of passive voice to work with to explain further how it’s.
Active Sentence: Kids love candy.
In this active sentence, you can distinguish the subject (kids) + verb (love) + object (candy).
Now, let’s conjugate the sentence so that you can present it in a passive voice.
Passive Sentence: Candy is loved by kids.
Object (candy) + verb in the form of “to be” with a past participle (is loved) + preposition (by) + subject (kids). As you can tell, transforming the sentence to passive voice flips the structure and requires “to be.”
Active vs. Passive Voice Examples
Here are several examples of active and voice, with the active voice written first.
- Active: “Jonathan fixed the tire.”
- Passive: “The tire was fixed by Jonathan.”
- Active: “The crew requires to watch the training video annually.”
- Passive: “The training video has to be watched by the crew annually.”
- Active: “Ava has to clean the house every weekend.”
- Passive: “The house will be cleaned by Ava every weekend.”
- Active: “Harold is going to make a boat in the backyard.”
- Passive: “A boat will be made by Harold in the backyard.”
- Active: “The boss will give you directions.”
- Passive: “Directions will be given to you by the boss.”
When To Avoid Passive Voice
Another right way to find a passive voice in a sentence is to know when writers should avoid it. These tips are essential for academic writing, especially since it can cause significant vagueness. For example, students use it often to hide gaps in information due to a lack of research.
Passive sentences can be confusing, especially in academic writing, when explaining different subjects and ideas. It can be far too challenging for readers to separate your ideas and actions from others on your team.
In a general text, voice can also stir up questions about subjects and their actions since writers omit them. In creative writing, for example, voice leaves readers wondering who is responsible for what.
For example, “The door was opened in the back of the house.” questions, who opened the door? In the active voice, it would read, “Sadie opened the door in the back of the house.”
If you’re searching for the best way to direct your text, an active voice is ideal. Passive voice can create lengthy sentences that are challenging to read and understand. You’ll want to ensure readers have the most crucial information at the beginning rather than the end.
This reason is why businesses highly regard passive text in communications. Higher-ups can know who involve and what the problem is at the start. When writing assignments, you’ll also find passive voice takes up valuable space for more critical content.
Marketing is one of the areas to avoid using passive voice, and it requires more mental effort. Passive sentences take longer for the brain to comprehend, which then leads to less consistency.
The more readers have to think about what you’re saying, the less they’ll understand. Ideally, your text should be quick, easy to read, and able from the start.
Using Grammar Checkers for Passive Voice
Apart from using the above tips to find a voice, grammar checkers are another valuable tool. There are a few user-friendly options, such as Yoast and Grammarly, that can help.
When you input text into a grammar checker, it analyzes your sentences for revisions ranging from punctuation to voice. The platform then highlights areas you should address and will make suggestions for potential edits.
Although grammar checkers don’t work 100% of the time, they are more than enough to get it. Also, they can help find things you otherwise wouldn’t.
Knowing what passive voice is in a sentence can help you avoid and use it correctly. It’s a valuable skill for many different areas of writing, from business emails to academic papers. Our tips are sure to make it easier to pinpoint to sufficiently edit your writing.