Some English teachers actively encourage their students to depend on active voice, while others allow their students to depend on passive voice. What’s the difference, and why is the difference important?
Active voice appears in sentences such as, “The detective discovered that the manager was a thief.” Passive voice appears in sentences such as, “It was discovered that the manager was a thief.”
Why would someone use passive voice in a sentence like that? Because they want to call the manager a thief, but are afraid to say why!
Passive voice is common in scientific papers, because it lets the writers avoid using the words I or we, to avoid saying where their ideas came from. That’s why some teachers think that passive voice sounds more educated. Usually, though, it’s simply less definite. It might (or might not) fool your teacher, but in the real world, when they have something to say, even scientists don’t have the luxury of not being definite.
In business writing, sentences make the most sense when the subject comes first, followed by what the subject is doing. So make sure passive writing is not reducing the efficiency of your words.
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