Did you know that March 4 is National Grammar Day? It is, so I thought it would be a good time to discuss everyone's favorite grammar topic.
How much do you know about Active and Passive Voice?Just the terms make some writers cringe. What do they mean? How do they
affect our writing? Turns out, they’re not as scary as they pretend to be. Here
is a simple breakdown. Active voice reflects
action. It is present in a sentence where the subject acts.
Passive voice reflects
being acted upon. It is seen in a sentence where the subject is acted on.
Active voicePassive voice
teach Basic Boot Camp for Writers.Basic Boot Camp for Writers is
taught by me.
instructor emailed me a lesson.I
was emailed a lesson by the instructor.
There are a few more
clues to help determine whether a sentence is written in active or passive
voice. Sentences with active voice are often shorter and more direct. Passive
sentences usually contain more words and lack the personality that the active
voice has. They often use auxiliary or helping verbs such as is being, was, will be, etc.
Reread the sentences
above and note how the subjects are handled. Notice how the passive voice appears
to take the round about way to state its point. Do the active voice sentences
appear direct and concise? Which version do you prefer?
Changing a sentence
from passive to active voice is not that difficult. Note what was done in this
The National Anthem was being sung by her.
She sang the National Anthem.
active subject, “She”, is acting or “singing”.In the passive voice, “she (her)” is not taking direct action. Passive is an
indirect way of saying what the active voice says. Which sounds better?
discussing when the use of passive voice is necessary, Bruce Ross-Larson,
author of Edit Yourself says,
rule mongers would say that the passive voice should never be used (or would
say that you should never use the passive voice). True, it generally is better
to use the active voice because it is more direct and more concise. But the
subject of the sentence should dictate voice. At issue is whether the subject
of the sentence is the subject of the paragraph. The passive has two
justifiable uses, both of which turn on whether the actor is less important
than what is acted upon.”
other words, occasionally the passive voice works in cases like this, when the actor “He” is left out:
adjusted the calibration to ascertain where the mechanical failure was.
would change it to:
calibration was adjusted to ascertain where the mechanical failure was.
Even with practice and good information, sometimes I get turned inside out trying to "unpassive" a sentence. Here are two links that I've found helpful:
Stay tuned - my 5th Blogoversary events include giveaways, interviews, and a guest post. If you or anyone you know is homeschooling, check out the Homeschool Co-ops 101 March Goodreads Giveaway in the sidebar. There are three paperback copies up for grabs! Not a homeschooler? Why not enter anyway, and donate the book to your local library. :)
Do you have trouble with active and passive voice? What helps you keep it straight?
Happy writing, Karen
Photo credit: Stock Exchange Post content copyright Karen Lange 2014. No part of text content may be used without prior permission from the author.
As a writer, do you have bouts of insecurity? You're not alone! Alex J. Cavanaugh joins us today to share about the Insecure Writer's Support Group.
Welcome Alex! What is the IWSG? How did it originate?
Thanks, Karen! It's great to be here. The Insecure Writer’s Support Group started with a comment I made in
an email exchange with another author. I told Rusty he needed such a group and
then it hit me – why not start one? I announced it in August 2011, opened a
sign-up, and on September 1, we had our first group posting. It was a huge
success and began to grow.
The IWSG is now three things! It’s the original blogging group that
posts the first Wednesday every month, with around three hundred members. Right
after the group hit the two-year mark, we opened the IWSG Facebook group, which
is over five hundred members strong. We also launched the IWSG site, which is a
database of sites, resources, and other databases for writers. There is
something for everyone now!
Sounds great. How does the group work?
The blogging IWSG posts the first Wednesday of every month. Writers
sign up on the list, grab the badge, and on that day post either about their
insecurities or words of encouragement for others. Then they visit other members
of the group.
The Facebook IWSG is open for anyone who wants to join and has four
themed days – Motivational Mondays, Wow It’s Wednesday, Fun Fridays, and
Saturday News and Promo. Members can ask questions and get support from
Can any writer participate? If so, how do they go about
Any writer on Facebook can join the Facebook IWSG. It’s a closed
group, so just request to join. (That’s just to keep spammers out.) Then you are
free to comment and interact. (Ironically, I am not on Facebook, but I have
several awesome IWSG site co-administrators who run it.) The Facebook group is
here - https://www.facebook.com/groups/IWSG13/
What is your favorite aspect of the IWSG?
The way everyone comes together to support and encourage one another.
Since I can’t visit everyone on the list, it’s nice to know members are reaching
out to others. The comments and emails from writers who are so thankful for the
IWSG fill me with joy. For many, it’s the group that keeps them going. The IWSG
has been such an amazing blessing.
It is wonderful to have a great support system - ones who understand the challenges of writing. Thanks for joining us today, Alex! Appreciate the info and the support you and the group provide for writers. :) You are welcome, Karen. Happy to share with other writers!
Alex J. Cavanaugh has a
Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is
experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for
several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from
books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder
of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of Amazon bestsellers
CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm, he lives in the Carolinas with his
It's hard to believe that February is almost over. I was just getting used to January when February hit. How about you? :)
March marks my 5th Blogoversary. The theme is Good Friends Old and New, and it will feature interviews, a guest post or two, and a giveaway that will include chocolate. Because what is a Blogoversary celebration without chocolate, right?