Basic Business Writing – Active vs Passive

This is an extract from the 30 Day Basic Business Writing Challenge by @SuzanStMaur

Active versus passive

In some of my writings on this topic I talk about “go” words/sentences versus “slow” words/sentences and despite not being very intellectual, those terms make it easy to remember which style works better!

This is closely linked with the need to write simply and straight to the point (see Day 28) and using active phrasing – through the correct use of “go” verbs – gives your business writing a much more authoritative, credible style.

Here are some examples:

Passive: The test was passed by most of the delegates at the conference.

Active: Most of the delegates at the conference passed the test.

Passive: An excellent speech was given by the Chief Executive.

Active: The Chief Executive gave an excellent speech.

Passive: An agreement in principle was reached by members of the Board.

Active: The members of the Board reached an agreement in principle.

Passive: The supplier was given an ultimatum by the store manager

Active: The store manager gave the supplier an ultimatum

Now, as today’s challenge here are some for you to re-write into Active mode…

Passive: A good time was had by everyone


Passive: After some discussion, it was agreed that we will go ahead with the new plan.


Passive: In general, it is thought by most participants that the new training scheme is effective.


Passive: It was decided by the committee that the proposed extension to the building should be delayed.


Passive: Many useful lessons were learned by all of us who were participants in the exercise.


Why not let me know your attempts in the comments? Or buy the rest of the Challenge below!

30 Day Basic Business Writing Challenge – eBook
Are mistakes in your writing letting you down in your career or business? Wish your written communication was as good and professional as you are? Here’s the help you need: the easiest, friendliest way perfect your basic business writing in just 30 enjoyable days
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