Active and Passive Voice

Active and Passive Voice – Tips for Content Writing

February 22nd, 2012 by

The use of active voice is important while writing online content. It improves the readability of your copy and reduces the wordiness. The lines seem more direct, so this is a good way to avoid fluff.

Active and Passive Voice – What’s the Difference?

Active and Passive Voice

Active voice shifts the focus to Batman: “Batman ridiculed Spiderman.” To put the      spotlight on Spidey, use passive voice: “Spiderman was ridiculed by Batman.”

Under active voice, the subject performs a particular action, while under passive voice, the tables are turned and the focus is shifted away from the subject.

Here’s a quick example that can explain the difference better.

Active: Spiderman attacked Sandman.

Passive: Sandman was attacked by Spiderman.

Here, Spiderman is the one who’s performing the action and Sandman is at the receiving end. Under passive voice, the focus shifts from the actual subject – Spiderman, in this case, to Sandman.

Here are some other active-passive variants.

Active: I passed the cake.

Passive: The cake was passed by me.

Active: Jonah gave Stacy a card.

Passive: The card was given to Stacy by Jonah.

Active: Customers can obtain more information from our website.

Passive: More information can be obtained by customers from our website.

Why Should You Follow Active Voice?

Online content should be catchy and straightforward because the attention span of readers in the web is very low. People look for quick information online, and they rarely spend more than just a few seconds skimming through an article. Under active voice,

  • The information will be more direct
  • The sentences will have energy and grab attention
  • The message will be easier to understand

How Do You Spot Instances of Passive Voice in Your Article?

Most people find it very difficult to differentiate between sentences in these two different voices. One easy way to spot instances of passive voice is to look for the word ‘was’.

Remember, though, that such instances need not always be in passive voice.

Spiderman was injured during the battle’ is an example of how ‘was’ can be used in active voice too.

While proofreading your work, you can tighten the sentences further by looking for instances of passive voice and rectifying these.

A key thing to note here is that using passive voice is not an error. It’s just a stylistic hurdle that hampers the readability of your content. Passive voice is more suited for fiction, while active voice is ideal for online content.

Remember – keep the focus on the subject. That’s the right way to write!


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One Response to Active and Passive Voice – Tips for Content Writing

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