Blogging With an Active Voice

Guest post by Emilee Butera

Are you reading this post or is this post being read by you? This difference between the two may seem minimal, but it’s actually very significant. Many people know that they should write in an active voice instead of passive voice, but they may not always realize the difference between the two. If you want your blog to do well, then it’s important that you write with an active voice as often as possible.

Subjects and Verbs

Try not to groan, but in order to understand the difference between passive and active writing, you need a quick grammar lesson. In the active voice, the subject of the sentence takes an action. For example, “John rode his bike.” If you rewrite that sentence passively it reads, “The bike was being ridden by John.” Do you see how the bike becomes the subject of the sentence instead of John? Which one do you think it most important? Additionally, the bike isn’t actively doing anything, it is passively being ridden. If you want to write actively, make sure that your subject is doing an action and instead of having subject that is acted upon. See, that wasn’t so painful, was it?

Help For Word Users

If you use Microsoft Word, you are in luck. Every version of Word since 2003 has a feature called “Readability Statics.” The location for turning this feature on varies across different versions, but, in most versions, you can find it under “Word Options” and then go under “Proofing.” Turn the feature on and Microsoft Word displays what percentage of your paragraph or post that you wrote passively every time you do a spelling and grammar check. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you which sentences are passive and you will have to figure that out using the tips in this post.

Other Signs to Watch Out For

Some people feel that writing formally makes them sound more professional, when in fact; it’s an example of passive voice writing you should avoid. Don’t write, “The theories of physics that was most dealt with by 20th century physicists was Newtonian physics.” Instead write, “Most 20th century physicists dealt with the theory of Newtonian physics.” Do you see how the latter is much easier to read? It speaks directly to the reader. Keep your sentence as clear and concise as possible. Another good thing to remember is that most versions of the verb “to be” such as were and was are often passive verbs depending on how you use them with the subject.

 

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You may run into occasions where the only way you can phrase something is in the passive voice; that is unavoidable. However, you should write with an active voice whenever you can. Examine every sentence of every paragraph of your blog posts to see if there is a way you can rewrite them to make them sound active. After you do this for a while, you’ll start mentally cataloging your most common mistakes and they will creep up in your writing less frequently.

About the Author: Emilee Butera is a full-time writer who enjoys sharing her love of the written word with others. She also helps human resource departments connect with groups like Adecco USA temp staffing services to fill their staffing needs.

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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1 Comment on "Blogging With an Active Voice"

  1. Thank you very much, Emilee, for taking the time to share your extremely informative tips. As one still relatively new to the blogging world, I find posts like these to be invaluable to me as I learn, grow, & evolve. I’m certainly going to be re-reading some of my own blog entries to determine how often I make the mistake of writing in the ‘passive voice’. I do most of my drafts in Microsoft Word 2003, so I’m extra appreciative of your hint about the “Proofing” setting I can use in that program to help determine the percentage of my writing that is passive.

    All the best to you & yours this holiday season, Emilee.

    [Reply]

    Cherie Reply:

    Thanks, Cari! Passive voice is something we all struggle with from time to time, so it’s not just for newbies. Falling into bad writers habits is never a good thing. All the more reason for a post like Emilee’s.

    [Reply]

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