Using Active Verbs and Active Voice in Business Communication

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  • 0:02 Verbs
  • 0:32 Active Verb/Voice
  • 1:15 Passive Verb/Voice
  • 3:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
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.

Verbs

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.

Active Verb/Voice

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.

Passive Verb/Voice

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.

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