Secrets of Better Writing

Do you write in active or passive voice?

Active voice is smooth, efficient, and clear. Passive voice is awkward, wordy, and difficult to understand. After you read the examples below, try converting the practice sentences at the bottom from passive to active voice.
Want feedback? Send your ideas to [email protected] and I'll reply. 

Passive voice: The option of managing the entire rental process - booking, collecting, pick-up, return - via a smartphone will not be used by everyone.

Active voice: Not everyone will book, pick-up, and return a rental car via an app.

Passive voice: The date has been chosen, the venue has been set, and the rings have been bought.

Active voice: They set the date, chose the venue, and bought the rings. 

Passive voice: This email is being sent to confirm the meeting date.

Active voice: I'm confirming the meeting date.

Passive voice is especially more difficult to read and understand in long passages. Here's an example from my portfolio: 

Passive voice (135 words): In the Stadium Lot, you may have noticed, changes have been made to the flow of traffic in the back student drop off area. In order to increase safety and improve traffic flow, 2 lanes are created in the morning as you approach the last trailer.  The left lane is for students and faculty who are parking and the right lane is for student drop off.  Parents should proceed all the way down to the tennis court area for drop off.  Parents dropping off will continue to the stop sign where they can then head toward the exit, obeying all traffic signs and directions from staff.  We appreciate your help with this new layout.  Letting students out of the car any earlier creates a backup on Taylor Road and unsafe conditions in the parking area.

Active voice (120 words): We hope you notice the improved traffic flow in the student drop-off area behind the stadium lot.  This new pattern prevents unsafe back-ups on Taylor Road and reduces congestion in the parking area.  From 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m., the single entrance lane becomes two as you approach the last trailer. If you are a student or faculty member parking for the day, please use the left lane.  If you are dropping off a student, please stay in the right lane all the way to the tennis courts. You student must remain in your car until you pull in front of the tennis courts. After your student exits the car, obey the stop sign and exit according to staff directing traffic.

Your Practice Sentences

Passive tense: The shelves are being painted by volunteers.

Passive tense: Travel is a sector where customer acquisition costs are high and retention can be a challenge.

Passive tense: The musicians are waiting to be fed dinner by the staff while they practice.

If you want me to comment, email your active voice sentences to [email protected]!