The war against passive voice

A quiet war is being waged against the usage of the passive voice. Somebody is waging a quiet war against passive voice usage.

True to its name, it is uncanny how much life active voice brings to a sentence. Nevertheless, several years of lethargic and sloppy writing has rendered me an inveterate passive voice user. I even harboured the illusion that using the passive voice made my writing sound cleverer. I see my folly now, and I have changed my mind. But changing my behaviour proves much harder. The status quo is a stealth bomber.

Behavioural science: The easiest way to change behaviour is to make the intended action easier to perform.

So who is waging the war against passive voice? Microsoft Word. Its weapon of choice? A wavy blue line. Recent versions underline every second sentence I type out, nudging me into active voice revisions.

Sure, it can be annoying to be corrected so often. I can turn this feature off if I want to. But it is active by default, and that makes all the difference.

2 thoughts on “The war against passive voice

    1. That is absolutely true. Passive voice can often have a distinct effect, if used with discretion. Nevertheless, for most non-scientific writing, active voice tends to be clearer and more concise.


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