Active Voice


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Active Voice

  1. 1. <ul><li>A Presentation </li></ul><ul><li>For The Fayetteville Observer </li></ul><ul><li>By John Rains </li></ul>The Active Voice
  2. 2. What is the active voice? <ul><li>A sentence is in the active voice when the subject does the acting instead of being the recipient of the acting. </li></ul><ul><li>Active: Jim wrote a report on the study. </li></ul><ul><li>Passive: The study report was written by Jim. </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is an active verb? <ul><li>A verb that conveys action—as opposed to a verb that merely links the subject to a thought. </li></ul><ul><li>Active: Jim tossed the report away. </li></ul><ul><li>Linking: Jim was tired of the report . </li></ul>
  4. 4. Active verbs just naturally go with writing that is in the active voice . <ul><li>When you put the subject front and center, doing something, you will probably find yourself using stronger, more interesting verbs. </li></ul>
  5. 5. The active voice is generally stronger. <ul><li>Both kinds of verbs are useful in writing. That’s why we have both. </li></ul><ul><li>But, unless you’re a diplomat or bureaucrat or some other kind of weasel, you need to rely on the active voice more than the passive. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Advantages of active voice: <ul><li>Shorter, more direct </li></ul><ul><li>More forceful </li></ul><ul><li>Greater clarity (The reader knows immediately who is doing what.) </li></ul><ul><li>Sharper imagery </li></ul>
  7. 7. Compare passages in the active and passive voices to see for yourself which is more effective. <ul><li>Stay away from the hot wire. It can kill you. </li></ul><ul><li>The hot wire should be avoided. You can be killed by it. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Should you ever use passive voice? Yes. <ul><li>Jon Franklin says that if you try to write entirely in the active voice, you are likely to produce something unreadable. </li></ul><ul><li>He’s right. The active voice is great, but you can have too much of a good thing. </li></ul>
  9. 9. The passive voice is useful: <ul><li>1. When you want to change pace or emphasis. The active voice works well for dramatic scenes or for key actions. The passive voice may be better for other material. A series of sentences in the active voice may be relieved by one in the passive voice. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>2. When the actor is unknown or unimportant. (The knife was found beside the body.) Or when you want to focus on the receiver of the action more than on the actor. (The teacher was fired for his political activism.) </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>3. When it is an economical way to highlight a key idea. (The mayor was killed Tuesday in a fall. You could put that sentence in the active voice, but at little if any gain.) </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>4. When you want a gentler or more diplomatic approach. (A teenage girl was killed Tuesday by a gunshot wound that police said was self-inflicted.) </li></ul><ul><li>5. When you want to strengthen the impression of objectivity—as, for example, in a research report. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>6. When you want to achieve a particular effect—whether it be wry, sardonic, sarcastic or comedic. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Good writers use both voices. <ul><li>As a guideline, “use the active voice” is good advice most of the time. But as with the “show, don’t tell” rule, don’t follow it off a cliff. </li></ul><ul><li>You need to know when to use one voice or the other, and when to use them together. </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>A Presentation </li></ul><ul><li>By John Rains </li></ul><ul><li>Writing Coach </li></ul><ul><li>The Fayetteville Observer </li></ul><ul><li>johnrains </li></ul>