Prepare for the War Against Passive Voice!

ManWithTypeAttention!

Writers, we must prepare for war! We must tighten up our armies! And we must win this war!

At this point, you are utterly confused as to what war we are fighting, what armies are, and what we are trying win. By the end of this blog post, you will understand. Now at ease.

The most persuasive essays contain clear subjects with appropriate action verbs that are often right next to each other. The war we fight regards writing weak sentences with unclear subjects and lousy “to be” verbs that are occasionally distanced from each other. In order to win the war, which suggests persuading the audience with our errorless grammar that boosts our ethos, we must tighten up our armies – our subjects and our verbs – to the extent that the subjects lead and the action verbs follow in an organized formation.

Rank the three sentences below from strongest to weakest:

  • The student writer had brainstormed ideas for his first essay in his English Composition class Friday morning, after he had eaten breakfast with his roommate.
  • The student writer brainstormed ideas for his first essay in his English Composition class Friday morning, after he ate breakfast with his roommate.
  • The ideas were brainstormed by the student writer for his first essay in his English Composition class Friday morning, after he ate breakfast with his roommate.

If you chose the second sentence as the strongest, then you are correct! The first sentence is the second strongest and the last sentence is the weakest sentence out of the three because of the use of passive voice. According to Purdue OWL, “The use of passive voice can create awkward sentences…[the] overuse of passive voice throughout an essay can cause your prose to seem flat and uninteresting.” (“Active Versus Passive Voice”). Active voice differs from passive voice by bringing the subject and the verb closer together, which produces an engaging and clear essay.

Remember! When you write your essays, arrange your armies accordingly, in order to execute ideas and information strongly and clearly to the reader: first the subject, then the verb because this arrangement enhances the writer’s voice, magnifying the tone and increasing your ethos, all of which underline the significance of active voice over passive voice.

Attention! Write!


Zachary-ThomasSP16 (2)

Zachary Thomas is a Creative Writing major at John Carroll in his third semester working at the Writing Center. Zach has promised to do a lap around the English department in O’Malley Center if anyone brings in creative writing for a consultation at the Center.

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