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Is writing in passive voice always bad? How can I change this?

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I hate to tell you, but even your question is in the passive voice. The worst thing about the passive voice in prose is that it makes the writer sound--well--passive, i.e., weak. The best way to get over using the passive voice in your compositions is to get over being passive, and writing in the active voice will inevitably have an effect on your personality.

Your question might have read:

When checking my essays in Grammarly, I discovered that I keep writing in the passive voice. I want to know whether this is always a bad practice. What can I do to change this habit if I decide to do so?

I think that writing in the passive voice is a reflection of one's attitude. It makes you sound as if you feel that things are happening to you and that you are not in charge of your life, or even in charge of the essay you are writing. You should sound more sure of yourself, even if you are not so sure. Make positive assertions.


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Teachers and instructors often take issue with the use of passive voice primarily because

a) It interrupts the natural flow of the information in the essay

b) It requires employing more words than with active voice

c) Passive voice does not reflect action causing effect onto a target while active voice does

d) Colloquially speaking, passive voice does not “get to the point” the way that active voice does.

To illustrate, let’s look at this example:

  • Mario bought a pizza – active voice
  • A pizza was bought by Mario- passive voice.

Using active voice engages the reader and brings out the message that you are trying to convey. Moreover, it is more effective to use active voice because the subject, and not the direct object, receives the main action of the sentence. This is what makes active voice the preferred choice for readers everywhere. One way to understand the effects of passive voice is to try and write a paragraph (4 sentences) entirely in passive voice and then one in active voice. You will immediately appreciate the active paragraph much more than the passive one.

For example:

Passive: The lamp was moved by the ghost. The wind was brushed by the ghost’s moves. The wood creaked by the cold wind that was left by the ghost. Finally, the hearts of the people were moved by what they saw.

Active: The ghost moved the lamp. It brushed the wind too. Then, the ghost left by cold wind that made the wood creak. This made the hearts of the people move. 

Notice the number of words, how much faster and actively engaged you can read the paragraph and how it goes straight to the point of what you aim to say.

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