Have you ever written an article in MS Word or some other word processor and that little squiggly line appears under the sentence? It alerts you that the sentence is “passive voice.” Does that annoy you? Well, you are not alone.
Most word processors are programmed to alert the author whenever the verb is passive. It is not a bad thing. If you write technical papers and articles, it is acceptable.
If you are an article marketer, the passive voice gets a bad rap. Do you know that there is nothing wrong with passive voice? Allow me to explain.
In case you are not sure, let me first show you the difference. Active voice uses the subject of a sentence to do the action. Passive uses the object of the sentence to receive the action.
Bill threw the ball. (active)
The ball was thrown by Bill. (passive)
(Note: I am using MS Word. Guess what just popped up. Yes, you guessed it. That little squiggly underlined that whole sentence. You just cannot get away from it. Don’t you just want that little squiggly line to disappear?)
In most cases, active voice is preferred. Active voice is better in the body of your article. Why is it better? It allows the reader to read easily through the body of your article. Active voice makes it easier for the reader to visualize what you want to communicate. More importantly, it gets him to the resource box quickly.
When is it acceptable to use passive voice? Let me show you two cases.
1) When you, the author, do not have a specific subject in mind or you want to emphasize the word or words affected by the action use passive voice.
Example: “Article marketers are not paid for their articles.” That sentence does not identify who it is that does not pay article marketers. The emphasis is on article marketers.
You could change it to active voice: “Publishers do not pay article marketers for their articles.” With this sentence, the emphasis shifts from the article marketer to the publisher. You may not want to do that. But, then again you might.
2) You may want to be vague or politically proper. You can use passive voice.
Example: “The critical remark was made by the wrong person at the wrong time.”
To change that sentence to active voice: “Tom made that critical remark at the wrong time.” Or, “The wrong person made that critical remark.”
In both cases, MS Word will alert you that the verb is passive. So what?
In the first, you want to emphasize “article marketers”. You want to emphasize the fact that they do not get direct compensation for their work.
In the second, you do not want to name names.
Do you see the difference?
Just because MS Word or some other word processor implies that it is wrong, it is not necessarily so. Before you change the sentence, make sure it does not change what you meant it to say.