The use of active verbs and an active voice in business writing will allow you to create communication that is clear, direct and easy to understand. Passive voice should be avoided as it can cause confusion and misunderstanding in your messages.
Creating interesting workplace communication depends upon skillful writing and precise word selection. Using active verbs and an active voice in business communication can generate impactful messages that will retain readers' attention.
A verb is a word that describes an action, occurrence or state, and it is considered the key word in a sentence. There are two types of verb voices that a writer can select for their message. Let's take a look at the difference between active and passive verbs.
Impactful writing in business usually consists of action verbs. These verbs communicate something a person, animal or object can do, such as 'The toddler gobbled her food down' or 'Becky jumped out of bed.' The use of an active voice in your business writing will strengthen the overall delivery.
A sentence with the use of an active voice has the subject performing the action. For example, 'Julia will eat pizza and bake a cake today' or 'Rick created a spreadsheet for the business meeting.' The sentence is clear and direct to the reader. Sentences that are constructed in the active voice are usually less wordy and concise. This makes it easier for the reader to comprehend the message.
Some writers present their messages with the use of passive verbs. A passive verb is usually recognized by the use of helping verbs, such as 'are', 'was', 'by' and' been'. In this voice, the subject of the sentence receives the action or is acted upon. An example would be 'The car is being fixed by the mechanic' or 'She has been arrested twice due to poor driving.'
So, why should you try and avoid the use of passive verb choice in business writing? Here is one example of passive writing for business: 'The spreadsheet was created by Rick for the meeting.'
Sentences that use passive voice are usually wordier and can lead to reader confusion. For example, 'The car was fixed by me.' This is a confusing sentence and is much wordier than the active voice sentence 'I fixed the car.' In some instances of passive verb selection, writers can end up eliminating the subject who is performing the action. This adds to even more confusion as in this example: 'The car was fixed.' The reader will wonder who fixed the car.
A passive voice is also a less powerful verb selection and can hurt the overall meaning of your sentence. The sentence above where it was stated that 'The car is being fixed by the mechanic' places the focus on the car, instead of the mechanic who is actually doing the fixing.
One suggestion to improve your business writing is to review your work and change any passive verb into action verbs. Make the subject of the passive verb, the object of the action verb. For example:
- The passive verb (was written): The business report was written by Carlos.
- An action verb (wrote): Carlos wrote the business report.
In the passive voice, the sentence focuses on the business report, instead of Carlos who is performing the action.
Your business writing should consist mainly of the use of active verbs and an active voice. Action verbs communicate something a person, animal or object can do. An example would be 'Janice baked an apple pie for the party.' Action verbs are a better choice for writing as they are more concise, direct and easier to understand.
The second verb tense that is found in writing is called passive voice/verb. A passive verb is usually recognized by the use of helping verbs, such as 'are', 'was', 'by' and 'been'. In this voice, the subject of the sentence receives the action or is acted upon. Your business writing should avoid the use of passive verbs as they can be wordy, confusing and hurt the overall meaning of the message. An example of a passive voice sentence would be 'The apple pie was baked by Janice for the party.'
Once you finish watching the video, you should have more of an ability to:
- Identify a verb
- Use action verbs
- Recognize and avoid the use of the passive voice
- Understand the importance of active verbs in business communication