Are you passive or active?
Passive – Accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.
The Passive voice is all about having the subject having something done to it by the object.
Active – engaged in action, or doing. Energetic.
The Active voice is about the subject doing things to the object.
People who are passive by nature can become victims. Those who are active are more likely to become successful.
“He was completely overshadowed by her. He was overshadowed because he was passive.”
“She completely overshadowed him. She overshadowed him because she was active or more energetic, perhaps louder, than him.”
In the first sentence above, the subject is acted upon. The emphasis is on “He” and the fact that he was overshadowed.
In the second sentence, the subject “she” is more prominent. She completely overshadowed him because she was active.
When you want to shift focus from the subject to the object, use the passive voice. Let’s have a look at some more examples of active vs passive voice.
“The book was written by Ivor Penn.” – passive
“Ivor Penn wrote the book.” – active
“The turkey is being cooked by Jane.” – passive
“Jane is cooking the turkey.” – active
When should you use the passive voice, and when the active? It is a question of meaning and emphasis, and largely depends on the context.
If you are in doubt, it is better to use the active voice because it is more commonly used, it is clearer, and it is easier to follow.
Passive voice is often used to omit the active and responsible subject.
e.g. “Shots were fired” or “Heads will roll”.
The CEO made the employees redundant. – Active
The employees were made redundant. – Passive
The Slippery Slope of Spell Check
Many English words have more than one meaning. Compounding that difficulty, they may have more than one spelling as well. Because of that, spell check will not always work well for you. It’s a tricky business, especially because those words that have more than one meaning are often very basic ones. So there you have some very slippery slimy errors that can slither through your spell check and let everyone know that your English is not the best. The only way to avoid these errors is to learn the correct spelling and usage of basic words well. Then you can feel safe from errors that might slip through. Continue reading “Passive or active, slippery or secure?”