The most important tool any journalist has is the ability to write well. And today that means knowing how to write a hard news article, a blog post, a movie review, or a political editorial.
One way to add more power to your writing is to avoid using passive sentences. An active sentence has impact and keeps the narrative strong. A passive sentence can ramble and frustrate the reader.
Here are some examples of active and passive sentences.
- Mary teaches the children.
- Mary (subject) — teaches (verb) — the children (object)
- The gardener cuts the grass.
- The gardener (subject) — cuts (verb) — the grass (object)
- The children are taught by Mary.
- The children (subject receiving action) — are taught (passive verb) — by Mary (doing action)
- The grass is cut by the gardener.
- The grass (subject receiving action) — is cut (passive verb) — by the gardener (doing action)
See the difference?
So when you’re proofreading your copy, make those passive sentences active.
GrammarGirl.com has some quick and dirty tips for spotting and correcting passive sentences. Be sure to check them out.