Use active voice.
English verbs have two voices: active voice and passive voice. In active voice, the person acting is clear: "The manager wrote the report yesterday." The person acting is the manager.
In passive voice, the person acting isn't specified: "The report was written yesterday." It could have been written by the secretary, George Bush, or the manager--we don't know.
The sentence is still in passive voice if the actor is specified later in the sentence: "The report was written yesterday by the manager."
Why use active voice?
Passive voice makes the writing unclear by keeping the identity of the actor secret. At times the identity is obvious, but often it isn't. Even if the reader has an idea of who the actor is, passive voice creates weak sentences that don't communicate immediately and emphatically.
This report is made up entirely of passive voice sentences:
In the introduction to this section, I used passive voice because I was focusing on the sentences, not the actors. The actors were superfluous. I wrote "In passive voice, the person acting isn't specified." That is in passive voice because I didn't state the actor. It is acceptable because the focus was on a characteristic of the writing, not who did the writing.
In the introduction to this section, I used passive voice because I was focusing on the sentences, not the actors. The actors were superfluous. I wrote "In passive voice, the person acting isn't specified." That is in passive voice because I didn't state the actor. It is acceptable because the focus was on a characteristic of the writing, not who did the writing.Changing passive voice to active voice To change passive voice to active, identify the performer of the action. If the performer is in a "by the" phrase, simply move the performer to the subject position, just before the verb. If the writer did not name a performer, choose a subject that fits the context. "The test results will be announced next week" easily becomes "We will announce the test results next week" or "The researchers will announce the test results next week." Avoid mixing active and passive voice in the same sentence. The first half of this sentence is active, but the second half is passive: "We found the lost contract, and the client was notified immediately." Instead, use active voice throughout: "We found the lost contract and notified the client immediately." Business writers should prefer active voice for most documents. Active voice is more direct and concise than passive voice. Passive voice is often awkward and evasive. Readers may interpret passive voice as an attempt to avoid admitting responsibility, as in the following example:"A mistake was made that resulted in an overcharge to your account that has now been corrected and will be shown on your next statement."Active voice sounds more responsible: "Our data entry clerk made a mistake and overcharged your account, but she corrected the entry. Your next statement will show the correction." Use active voice at all times unless you have a good reason to use passive. Practice changing passive voice to active voice Find the passive verbs in the following sentences. Change them to active voice. Write your answer before comparing your sentences with the samples. When you are finished, close this window to return to your assignments page. 1. The report will be reviewed by the supervisor before it is sent to the manager.