Career Success: Tweet #114

Career Success Tweet #114When you use the active voice, your writing and you come across as strong, forceful and self-confident.  If you need a grammar refresher, in the active voice the subject of the sentence does something.  Go back to the tweet.  In the first example, “I” is the subject of the sentence.  To continue with the example, I does something, he or she suggests doing this…

Think of the title of the Marvin Gaye song, “I heard it through the Grapevine.”  It is in the active voice.  I (the subject) heard (the verb) it (the object).

The passive voice is just the opposite.  In the passive voice, the target of the action is the subject.  In some cases, this makes no sense.  No one would be likely to write, “It through the grapevine I heard.”  The passive voice tends to use more words, and can confuse the reader.  And, you can come across as a weasel when you use the passive voice.

I’m old enough to remember the Iran-Contra affair.  When speaking about it, President Reagan said, “Mistakes were made.”  The problem with this sentence is that it begs the question of who made the mistakes.  This sentence would be stronger if it read, “I made a mistake.”  Or, “This administration made a mistake.”  Of course, in this case the active voice may not have been the best to use politically.

As I’m writing this, I think I may be over-complicating things.  The English Department at Purdue University does a good job of providing examples of the active and passive voice…

Active Voice: The dog bit the boy.

Passive Voice: The boy was bitten by the dog.

Active Voice: Scientists conducted experiments to test the hypothesis.

Passive Voice: The hypothesis was tested in experiments conducted by scientists.

Active Voice: Over one-third of the applicants failed the entrance exam.

Passive Voice: The entrance exam was failed by over one-third of the applicants.

Active Voice: The committee is considering the bill.

Passive Voice: The bill is being considered by the committee.

When you write in the active voice – especially when you use the first person “I” – you come across as strong, forceful and self-confident.  Your writing is clear.  It communicates better.

In conclusion, it is suggested by this writer that the active voice should be used in your writing.  Just kidding.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  If you want to write well and clearly, follow the career advice in Tweet 114 in Success Tweets.  “Use the active voice in your writing.  Say ‘I suggest we do this,’ rather than ‘It is suggested that…’”  The active voice is almost always more clear.  It makes your writing easier to understand.  And, when you write in the active voice you come across as self-confident and in command of your subject.

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