Weak wordings wreak havoc on quality content.
I’ve read reams of reports, endless series of cyber-stories, mountains of memos, and scads of student essays. Maybe you have too.
What’s the worst sort of weak writing one might find?
My personal pet peeve is the use of passive voice in common constructions. Sure, certain communications might call for this format. Legal and financial communications might use passive voice in official matters.
Still, the most interesting compositions in news, non-fiction, fiction, and poetry aim for active voice.
Consider these examples of passive and active voice:
- Were you at the party that was thrown by Katrina?
- Did you go to Katrina’s party?
- A good time was had by all.
- The party rocked.
- There were more than 100 people who went to Katrina’s house.
- More than 100 people crowded into Katrina’s house.
- Unfortunately, a teen was struck by a car, which was driven by a minivan driver who happened to be intoxicated, on the way to the party.
- Unfortunately, an intoxicated driver struck a teen with a minivan on the way to the party.
- The teen was said to have had a few bruises, but he was found to be found uninjured otherwise.
- The teen suffered a few bruises, but no other apparent injuries.
- If you were one of those who attended and enjoyed themselves, you may want to be among those from whom Katrina receives thank-you’s.
- If you liked the party, you might want to thank Katrina.
- It would seem that Katrina would be likely to have another party soon.
- Katrina might host another party soon.
Which approach is most readable and enjoyable?
Active voice makes sentence subjects do the work. Passive voice has work done to folks instead. Which would you rather read?
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