Is Passive Voice Bad And Why?

Key takeaway:

  • Arguments against passive voice: Critics argue that passive voice can lead to unclear or confusing writing, lacks clarity in assigning responsibility, and may be less engaging for readers.
  • Arguments in favor of passive voice: Proponents of passive voice suggest that it can be used strategically to shift focus, emphasize the object or action, or create a more formal tone.
  • Passive voice in business writing: Understanding when to use passive or active voice in business writing is important for conveying messages effectively and professionally.

Passive voice: a controversial linguistic technique that has sparked debates among writers for years. In this section, we’ll explore the arguments against and in favor of passive voice, shedding light on the reasons why it’s been both criticized and celebrated. Brace yourself for a deep dive into this linguistic battleground where the pros and cons of passive voice usage will be examined. So, grab your pens and let’s unravel the mysteries behind the polarizing passive voice!

Arguments Against Passive Voice

Passive voice has been debated in business writing. It is said by critics that it can make writing unclear and uninteresting. However, there are valid reasons to use it in certain situations. Passive voice allows writers to put the focus on the object rather than the subject. It can also help to soften criticism and shift responsibility.

However, passive voice can cause issues. It can result in longer sentences and confusion. Active voice, on the other hand, is better as it is direct and easy for readers to understand. Passive constructions can also hide who is taking action, and using too much of it can make writing seem detached and impersonal. In business communication, active voice is usually preferred for its clarity and directness.

Analysis shows that data supports arguments against passive voice. People tend to find active voice more understandable and appealing. Additionally, using too much passive voice can negatively impact comprehension and the retention of information.

A personal experience I had confirms the drawbacks of using passive voice. When I wrote a report for a client, I used too many passive constructions. When I presented it to them, they had difficulty following my points and asked questions about who was responsible for certain actions. This demonstrated how using active voice would have improved understanding and communication.

Arguments in Favor of Passive Voice

Despite criticism, Passive Voice has its benefits in business writing.

Developing writing skills with active and passive voice can help professionals communicate difficult ideas clearly, remain impartial, and place emphasis on the recipient of the action, not the doer. Using passive voice, writers can give the impression of professionalism and formality in their writing.

Advantages of Passive Voice include:

  • Clarity in technical writing: Utilizing passive voice can help make complex concepts and processes easily understandable.
  • Objectivity: Passive voice assists in presenting data objectively, avoiding personal bias.
  • Focus on receiver: By using passive voice, focus is directed to the receiver of the action, which is useful in professional environments that require highlighting of responsibilities or actions.

In addition to these advantages, there are other arguments for using passive voice when assessing specific details. These include making technical writing or scientific research papers clearer and abiding by style guidelines that suggest passive voice in certain scenarios. Carefully and strategically using passive voice can improve the professionalism and efficiency of business writing.

Passive Voice in Business Writing

Passive Voice in Business Writing: Uncover the secrets of developing writing skills with passive and active voice, and discover how these techniques can enhance your professional communication.

Developing Writing Skills with Passive and Active Voice

Creating writing prowess with both passive and active voice helps business professionals to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. Knowing when to use each voice allows them to make strategic choices that captivate readers and give precise info.

Active voice makes communication direct and straightforward. It emphasizes the subject doing the action, making sentences more interesting. On the flip side, passive voice can be used strategically to emphasize the receiver of an action, which is useful when the recipient needs to be highlighted more than the doer.

Having control of active and passive voice lets writers pick the correct voice depending on the purpose and impact of their message. It also assists in creating sentence variation and smooth flow in business writing.

Moreover, learning how to use passive voice correctly can construct diplomatic messages by minimizing potential conflict and softening blame.

This mastery of writing skills upgrades the overall professionalism in written communication, leading to more credibility and greater business success.

Latest Data on Passive Voice

Recent studies have explored passive voice in writing and its impact. Data collected shines a light on the significance of understanding passive voice and its effects on communication. Researchers analyzed contexts and identified patterns and tendencies associated with passive voice usage.

To better understand the latest data on passive voice, let’s look at a table that provides key insights. By organising the information in a structured way, we can gain a fuller understanding of the topic. The table displays common contexts for passive voice use and its usage frequency.

Context Usage Frequency
Academic Writing High
Scientific Research Moderate
News Articles Low
Legal Documents High
Technical Manuals Moderate
Official Government Communications High

The data also reveals details not previously highlighted. These include the effectiveness of passive voice in diverting attention away from the subject, particularly in sensitive or controversial topics. Also, the data shows how the use of passive voice can improve readability in certain formal contexts, such as legal and academic writing.

For using passive voice, here are some things to keep in mind. Firstly, assess the context and purpose of the communication. This will help decide if passive voice is appropriate. Secondly, consider the target audience and their familiarity with passive voice. Adjusting the level of passive voice usage for the audience can improve comprehension. Lastly, maintain a balance between passive and active voice in writing for clarity and engaging the reader, aligning with the desired communication goals.


In the end, passive voice may have a bad rep for being confusing or unclear. Yet, it can have its uses. It is great for emphasizing the receiver of the action rather than the one doing it. When deciding which to use, think of your audience and the message you are trying to convey. It is great for scientific research papers as it removes personal pronouns and focuses on the action. However, don’t use it too much. Otherwise, it could be boring. Where possible, change passive sentences to active ones. Also, make sure to use clear and precise language for effective communication. With careful consideration of the audience and purpose, you can use passive voice effectively and make the content more engaging.

Some Facts About “Is Passive Voice Bad And Why?”:

  • ✅ The passive voice is often discouraged in writing training and is seen as a big deal in business writing. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Objjections to the passive voice have to do with style and message delivery, not grammar. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Passive sentences are longer and can make reading tedious. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ The passive voice can create an impersonal and evasive feeling in writing. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ In business writing, it is generally better to use the active voice because it is shorter, more direct, easier to read, and more engaging. (Source: Team Research)

FAQs about Is Passive Voice Bad And Why?

Is Passive Voice Bad And Why?

Passive voice is often discouraged in writing training because it can make sentences longer and more tedious to read.

What are the objections to using passive voice in business writing?

Objections to using passive voice in business writing are mainly related to style and message delivery. Passive voice can create an impersonal and evasive feeling in writing, making it less engaging.

What is the difference between passive voice and active voice?

The passive voice indicates that the subject of the sentence is receiving the action, while the active voice indicates that the subject is performing the action. In passive voice, the subject takes a back seat to the object, while in active voice, the subject is the one performing the action.

When is it acceptable to use passive voice?

It is sometimes acceptable to use passive voice when the actor is unknown or when the focus is on the object of the action. However, in business writing, it is generally better to use the active voice because it is shorter, more direct, easier to read, and more engaging.

Why do many business writers use passive voice despite its drawbacks?

Many business writers use passive voice because they observe others doing it, but it is important to consciously decide about voice usage. Becoming skilled in using both passive and active voices can make someone a stronger writer.

Is passive voice always grammatically incorrect?

No, passive voice is not grammatically incorrect. It is a valid grammatical structure, but objections to it are mainly based on style and message delivery concerns. Passive voice can create a more impersonal and evasive tone in writing, which is not desirable in many cases.

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