Active and Passive Voice (Bite Size)

What are the Active & Passive Voices?

Active Voice describes a sentence where the subject performs the action stated by the verb. In Passive Voice sentences, the subject is acted upon by the verb. The Active Voice is clearer, more decisive and confident.

In proposals, Active Voice should always be used to assert actions. Passive Voice may weaken your message. Active Voice tends to result in direct, shorter sentences – very useful for proposals.

Top Tips for using the Active And Passive Voice:

Use active sentences as much as possible.

It strengthens your message and makes clearer, more confident and direct. This is a sentence where a person acts and seems more persuasive, convincing and viable.

Use a passive sentence when you do not know/want to mention the actor.

When admitting a mistake, the passive voice accepts responsibility but does not ‘name and shame’ an individual or overly accept the mistake.

Use a passive sentence when THE received is more important than THE actor.

This tool can really help clarify the sentence and focus on the customer benefit, rather than the specific processes giving you that benefit.

Use passive construction to link sentences.

When you want to focus on two services offered or two sections of your proposal, it is better to link them using the passive voice. This keeps a complicated question simpler for the customer and conveys your message in a more effective way.

Use personal pronouns and active voice to convey clarity.

When you use the active voice and personal pronouns like ‘I’ or ‘we’, your proposal becomes more personable and human to your customer and is more likely to establish a connection.

Convert passive sentences to active by simple re-thinking.

It may seem hard to convert a pre-existing sentence to the active voice. Give it some time and some thought, all sentences can be re-arranged.

Updated July 2022

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