Passive v active language

It’s the difference between saying: “The mat was sat on by the cat” and “The cat sat on the mat”.

In job ads, recruiters often write things like: “Experience will be advantageous” rather than “You’ll need to have experience” or “You’ve probably done this before”. Or they’ll write “Training will be provided” instead of “You’ll get all the training you need”.

Don’t panic. You don’t have to learning the grammatical constructs of passive and active voice.

A free tool you can use, without having to login or give up your email address, is the Hemingway app. Just copy/paste your text in place over the default text that’s already there.

Named after the writer, Ernest Hemingway, the app colour-codes your copy.

One of the things it shows is where you’ve used passive language.

Hemingway was notably economical in his writing style, so the app will also highlight sentences it thinks are too long or complicated.

It gives you a clue about where you can make changes (it doesn’t suggest what changes to make).

Remember, it’s AI, so it’s not infallible. Of course, you can still use your human intellect to over-ride it.

Find out more