Active voice vs passive voice.

July 6, 2014 13 11220

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IIn the academic world there is a lot of discussion about the importance of writing papers in active voice.  This is something that certain professors, usually ones who teach English, will frequently check for and deduct points.  Generally, passive voice is frowned upon while active voice is accepted.  The difference between the two can be somewhat confusing and a lot of new writers have difficulty understanding exactly what they should be doing.  Fortunately, Academic Composition has some pointers to help you do your best and get the grades that you deserve. This simple guide will teach you everything that you could possibly want to know about the subject.

Before doing anything else, you should learn about the difference between active voice and passive voice.  This is something that a lot of scholars try to explain, but many of them have trouble articulating, it’s a common issue that only creates more confusion.  To put it very simply, active voice is what occurs when the subject in the sentence preforms an action that is expressed by the verb.  In other words “The raccoon bit me” is an active voice sentence.  The subject is the raccoon and “bit” was the action. “I ate a grape” is another example of active voice. “I” is the subject and “ate” is the action being expressed by the verb. “I was bitten by the raccoon” is passive voice, the subject is not the one performing the action.  Likewise, “The grape was eaten by me” is passive voice as well.

Professors tend to like essays that use active voice because they are usually easier to read, are more straightforward and because that makes the information easier to follow along with.  Academics tend to enjoy this because of the fact that it makes everything clear and simple to understand. When you write anything that isn’t a scientific report try to use active voice whenever possible.

If you are unsure as to whether or not you are using passive voice, there is a great resource that can help you out.  Using an online writing tool like After the Deadline can help to provide you with information on sentences that are written in passive voice, it will identify it wherever it occurs.  Additionally, you can check out books like The Elements Of Style for guidelines on active and passive voice.

While writing in active voice takes some time to figure out, it is something that anyone can master.  Your biggest issue will be identifying your inclination to use either active or passive voicing.  Once you have done this it becomes a lot easier to express yourself in a clear and concise manner.  Doing so will make your essays easier to write, more readable, and better regarded.  These factors typically mean that you will earn a higher grade simply because you were able to write more clearly.  Making your sentences easier to understand is essential to getting a good grade. While writing in active voice isn’t a magic cure all, it can make a difference on your next paper.

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13 Comments

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