Making Verbs Work. Passive versus Active Voice. Use strong verbs. Verbs provide the momentum of writing. Proper verb choice makes the difference between crisp, clear writing and bloated, clumsy writing. What is the difference?.
Passive versus Active Voice
A sentence is in the active voice when the subject does the acting instead of being the recipient of the acting.
Active: Lowell depicts a grim view of marriage.
Passive: Marriage is depicted as grim by Lowell.
A verb that conveys action—as opposed to a verb that merely links the subject to a thought.
Active: Jim tossed the report away.
Linking: Jim was tired of the report.
Weak verb phrases
Lowell’s poem is a sonnet.
She revels in chocolate, walking under the moonlight, and songs from the 1930s jazz period.
She revels in sweet chocolate eclairs, long moonlit walks, and classic jazz music.
She loves eating chocolate eclairs, taking moonlit walks, and singing classic jazz.
The knife was found beside the body.
The teacher was fired for his political activism.
A teenage girl was killed Tuesday by a gunshot wound that police said was self-inflicted.