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.
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.