Technical Writing


Active voice is always preferred when writing most of the literature and creative writings. Passive voice is on the other hand preferred when writing scientific reports and other write ups, making non-committed reports and when writing fictional stories where the subject in a sentence is not known. The main difference between active and passive voices is that active voice puts emphasis on the subject in that sentence. Passive voice on the other hand puts emphasis on the object. It is therefore evident that there is always a difference in tone, persuasiveness, and diplomacy whenever a similar story is retold using the two styles.

Differences Between Active and Passive Voices

First, the active voice is making the subject inferior and elevating the object. The first paragraph in the active voice puts emphasis on the Ada County prosecutor who charged a former state U university employee with misappropriation of funds. Passive voice put emphasis on us, the recipients, who did nothing but receive the information. This makes it more focused on the unimportant people in this case (the recipients to the information). Active voice correctly elevates the message conveyor, the prosecutor. Passive voice therefore fails to deliver the desired persuasion to the reader since the weight is placed on the wrong individuals who contributed nothing to the verb. The person who delivered the information was supposed to be elevated ahead of the recipients.

Active voice explains how Tim Jewkes was hired and puts the university which hired him at the center of interest, as well as explaining the activities he was supposed to handle. The paragraph also explains that there has been a misappropriation of funds. Passive voice on the other hand gives Tim the central role about his hiring. Passive voice is well used here where it has given no suggestion about who misappropriated the funds since Jewkes was only a suspect. This upholds diplomacy since it was evident that funds had been misappropriated yet it was still unclear who did it.

The more important aspect is the auditors who discovered the accounting discrepancies rather than the discrepancies themselves. While active voice puts emphasis on the auditors, passive voice wrongly places emphasis on accounting discrepancies. This is the same case with Tim Jewkes’ resignation which is an important aspect of the article. He ought to be the centre of interest since he did the resignation. Active voice effectively puts him on the focus while passive voice shifts the focus to his resignation letter. This way, the emphasis is wrongly placed on the letter rather than the resignee.

The memo declares that someone would carry out an investigation as well as revise the cash and check receipting procedures. The active voice states that ‘we’, to mean State U, would carry out the investigation. Passive voice on the other hand does not specify who would carry out the two processes. Diplomatically, this is correct to ensure that no one is held responsible for the outcome but the system.

Passive voice is usually used to conceal the main actor of the verb and this has been used in the final paragraph which conceals on who actually makes decisions on discrepancy matters. Active voice on the other hand states that state U makes the decisions of that nature.


There is a general difference in tone and general assertion in the message from the two memos due to the voices used. Passive voice at times is putting emphasis on the wrong nouns and shifts the assertion in the process. Though at times it is useful when the main doer of the verb is unknown, its continuous use makes the memo lose the intended meaning and sternness. However, passive voice would be used effectively when there is no one responsible for carrying out an action, like in the case of finality on who misappropriated the funds. Finally, persuasiveness is lost in the cases where passive voice has been used due to the wrong placement of the verbs and nouns. However, passive voice is effective where diplomacy needs to be upheld, when there is no one is responsible for the unsure or unproven deeds such as court allegations.

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