How often do you use the verb “to be” in your writing? Look over the last piece of work you produced. Scan it for any variation of this verb, such as “is,” “was,” and “were.” Now look for other verbs proceeded by these same words, for example, “was running” or “were talking.”
Also avoid verbs that end in “ing.” These qualify as passive verbs as well.
Passive verbs make your writing weak and uninteresting. Writers should strive to create strong and interesting prose.
However, most of us find it easier to write using passive verbs. My blogs posts, which I often write quickly, tend to have many more passive verbs in them than some of the other written work I produce. I spend more time crafting these pieces than blogs. I rewrite the sentences and find ways to eliminate any passive verbs wherever possible. (Occasionally something just “is” something, though, and I can’t get around that fact!)
When I edit work for my clients, I spend a ton of time rewriting sentences to rid their work of any form of the verb “to-be.” Writing active sentences—those that do not posses passive verbs—takes longer. You’ll find it well worth your time and effort, though, to take the time and make the effort to write actively. You’re readers will thank you.
I’ve heard some people say, “Active writing isn’t important.” Then why will you find this rule in every style book, including the classic, Stunk and White’s Elements of Style? Even WordPress blogging software points out your passive verbs for you as if they are misspelled words!
If you hire a professional editor, you’ll pay more for their services (in terms of time) if they correct your passive verbs for you. So, learn to write actively. You’ll become a better writer in the process.