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Scott Lax Blog

"Use the Active Voice" - Strunk & White's Essential Advice

Finn observing the world.
I tell students over and over and over (to quote Pee-Wee Herman) again to "use the active voice."

For example, regarding the picture to the right, you could either say, "The day Finn first rolled over on his side will always be remembered by me." It's stronger to say, "I will always remember the day Finn first rolled over on his side."

As Strunk and White say, though, "This rule does not, of course, mean that the writer should entirely discard the passive voice, which is frequently convenient and sometimes necessary."

In other words, don't fret about never using it. Or: It is not always the best way to say a thing. (The first sentence in this paragraph is active; the second passive; both work.) Learn the rule, and use your best judgement.  Read More