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Why the passive voice is hated by me

Posted by Maria Murnane | August 28, 2012

If you’re not sure what the passive voice is, the title of this blog post should give you an idea.

In the active voice, someone or something is doing something to someone or something.

  • I opened the door.
  • She murdered him.
  • He sang the song.

In the passive voice, something is being done to someone or something.

  • The door was opened by me.
  • He was murdered by her.
  • The song was sung by him.

Passive voice is bland, weak, and annoying. It’s even more annoying when there is no attribution to the action being done. For example:

  • The body was carried upstairs.
  • The speech was viewed as a disappointment.
  • The day was remembered fondly.

Who carried the body? Who didn’t like the speech? Who remembered the day? I want to know the answers to these questions! A little passive voice is fine, but too much of it means too much unaccountability, which will eventually bore your readers.

passive voice

Compare the following two paragraphs. Which one do you think is stronger?

Her excitement woke her up before her alarm. She enjoyed a long, hot shower, then prepared breakfast. Over a plate of eggs and toast she read the newspaper, then headed to the closet to select the perfect interview outfit.

-OR-

She was woken up by her excitement before her alarm. After a long, hot shower was enjoyed by her, breakfast was prepared. Over a plate of eggs and toast the newspaper was read, and then she headed to the closet so the perfect interview outfit could be selected.

Yikes. Which one of these women would YOU want to hire?

Whether you’re writing a book, a speech, or even an email, make sure the passive voice is avoided by you. You could also just avoid the passive voice .

-Maria

This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2012 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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