When you hear phrases like ‘active verbs’ you are immediately cast back to your school days. Sitting at the back of the classroom hearing your teacher drone on about grammar.
In fact, these types of phrases do the English language a real disservice. They switch people off and remind them that – whatever they are doing now – it’s better than sitting in that classroom trying to fathom out the intricacies of English grammar.
Even so, I urge you to cast aside your fears and read on. Here’s a tip abut active verbs and how to make your writing more dynamic, easier to read and more engaging.
Yes, it’s a grammar tip…but grammar as you’ve never known it. Easy to follow and remember.
Just like the Soap Operas
Sentences are like Soap Operas. Something has to happen. There’s usually one subject – often a person – that does something. There’s also usually an object. This is the person who has something done to them.
Take the following sentence:
Jimmy is cuddling Jenny
Jimmy is the main subject. He’s the active one. He’s doing the cuddling. Jenny is the object. She’s on the receiving end of Jimmy’s affections, whether she likes it or not.
The sentence is therefore active because it starts with the person or subject that is going to do something in the sentence. The sentence is clear and direct and explains exactly what’s going on in the simplest way.
I could write:
Jenny is being cuddled by Jimmy
It means the same thing. But this time the active person who is doing something – Jimmy – is at the end of the sentence, and Jenny, who is passive and not doing anything, is at the beginning of the sentence.
For this reason, this type of sentence is called a passive sentence. The main person doing the action is at the end and the object or person on the receiving end is at the beginning.
This is the wrong way round.
So, if you want to write clearly and simply and in a way that is easy to read and follow always try to make your sentences active. Start with the object or person who is doing the action, and then follow on from there.
Try to remember to keep your sentences active. Your writing will not be complex or elaborate, but your readers will thank you.
If you would like more help improving your writing, contact Adam on 01788 335284.