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Bob Nailor

By Zombies

"That's passive voice!" and my editor would scar my document with slashes of red.

It looked right to me and it sounded okay. My whole body screamed "So who cares?"

I attended a seminar with one of the offered sessions being something like "about Active vs Passive Voice" so I decided to sit in. The speaker bounced across the front of the classroom while expounding on the failings of a passive voice story.

I was poised to ask a question when another brave soul interrupted the speaker and asked bluntly "Who really cares?"

Dust motes froze in time. Those fuzzie balls in the corners snickered. Yes, it was that silent in the room you could actually hear them.

"Why, your reader cares."

I nonchalantly scuffled around in my seat so my poised hand was resting in my lap... nobody the wiser. Like the others in the classroom - I stared, shocked, at the hapless victim who asked an innocent question.

Your reader wants action! Your reader wants to be included. There is no reason to tell your reader, let them experience the moment.


It's simple! In Active Voice, the subject of the line does the action. In Passive Voice, the sentence is turned around. Simply put:

It is really easy to tell Passive from Active. Usually (almost always) the sentence is definitely more concise when it is Active Voice.

Now, as I learned just a few short weeks ago. The easiest way to decide if a sentence is active or passive is very simple.

Add "by zombies" after the verb

Now revisit the sentences, adding "by zombies" as I said.

Yes, I know these zombies are something else but they serve their purpose.

The first sentence is Active Voice and when mutated with "by zombies" it makes no sense or, at least, very little sense.

The next two sentences are both Passive Voice and you can see how well the additive "by zombies" fits into the sentence structure.

So, in the future, when in doubt about whether or not your sentence structure is Active or Passive Voice -- just call on the zombies to help you out.

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