Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

I've been thinking about how much difference a few simple ideas can make to our writing. Using the active voice is certainly one of them. See if you agree.

Let's take Winston Churchill's example 'We shall fight on the beaches.' It's active because we have a subject, plus a verb, in that order.

Wouldn't Churchill's famous line have fallen flat if he had used the passive: 'The beaches shall be fought on. The landing grounds shall be fought on. There will be fighting in the fields and in the streets'?

Even the academic journals are now demanding the active voice. 'We collected samples along a 1,000 metre transect' is active. 'Samples were collected along a 1,000 metre transect' is passive. It's also dull, and there's no ownership. Stanford University advises its engineering students to 'Expunge virtually all use of the passive voice.'

The occasional passive could give you some useful variety, but let's keep the proportion down.

About Ralph Brown

ralph brown blog3

Ralph is our founder and managing director. He has a background in psychology, television journalism and business.

Ralph's passions are psychology and writing. He leads workshops on both and speaks to conferences on the psychology of thriving at work.

In 2011  Professional Speakers Australia awarded him its top speaking accreditation, the CSP.

He has written six books and more than a hundred articles on psychology and writing. International research journals have published his articles reviewing the research on resilience.

Ralph enjoys trips to France. He lives in rural Canterbury.

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