Passive Voice v. Active Voice

passive active voice

Learning to write affectively can seem like a never ending battle with words, citations, eye catching titles, paragraphs and of course the “voice” in which the writer chooses to engage the their readers.

Two commonly used “voice” types writer’s use are; active voice and passive voice.

passive active voice2Active voice: the subject of the sentence performs the action expressed in the verbHowever, with passive voice, the subject is acted upon; he or she receives the action expressed by the verb. The agent performing the action may appear in a “by the…” phrase or may be omitted (OWL, Online Writing Guide, 1995-2014).

You can recognize passive-voice expressions because the verb phrase will always include a form of be, such as am, is, was, were, are, or been. Another way to recognize passive-voice sentences is that they may include a “by the…” phrase after the verb; the agent performing the action, if named, is the object of the preposition in this phrase. Sometimes the use of passive voice can create awkward sentences, also, overuse of passive voice throughout an essay can cause your prose to seem flat and uninteresting (OWL, Online Writing Guide, 1995-2014).

Up to this point I never really thought of the “voice” I was writing in, however after researching active and passive voice this week, I hope I will now become a much more affective and engaging writer.

passive active voice3




Three Blog’s Written in Active Voice:

Emotional Cliff Jumping

Emotional cliff jumping, we do it every day, sometimes we know we jump sometimes we do it without even knowing we jump.  Every day people jump off emotional cliffs and dive into emotions both their own and other people’s emotions.  Without emotions it would be almost impossible for people to communicate with each other on a daily basis.  We rely strongly on emotions in order to determine if our friends or co-workers like us, if they display happy or sad expressions or if we ourselves display happy or sad expressions at any given moment and the higher our emotional intelligence (EI) the better we can communicate with the people around us.  What’s EI exactly?

Emotional intelligence (EI): the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.

The Four Branches of Emotional Intelligence

Salovey and Mayer proposed a model that identified four different factors of emotional intelligence: the perception of emotion, the ability reason using emotions, the ability to understand emotion and the ability to manage emotions.

1.     Perceiving Emotions: To accurately understand emotions we first need to perceive them. In many cases, this might involve understanding nonverbal signals such as body language and facial expressions.

2.     Reasoning with Emotions: The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritize what we pay attention and react to; we respond emotionally to things that garner our attention.

3.     Understanding Emotions: The emotions that we perceive can carry a wide variety of meanings. If you express angry emotions, the observer must interpret the cause of their anger and what it might mean. For example, if your boss acts angry, it might mean dissatisfaction with your work; or it could be because he got a speeding ticket on his way to work that morning or that he’s been fighting with his wife.

4.     Managing Emotions: The ability to manage emotions effectively encompasses a key part of emotional intelligence. Regulating emotions, responding appropriately and responding to the emotions of others encompass all the important aspects of emotional management.

Studies have shown that people with high EI have greater mental health exemplary job performance, and more potent leadership skills.

Empathy, another major factor of EI plays a vital role.  Empathy:  the capacity to share or recognize emotions experienced by another sentient or fictional being.  One may need to have a certain amount of empathy before being able to experience accurate sympathy or compassion.

Experiencing and understanding another person’s condition from their perspective, creates empathy. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they others feel. Empathy increases prosocial (helping) behaviors.

How do we become more empathic or emotionally intelligent?  That’s a good question, perhaps emotional risks plays a large factor.  Without risking our emotions can we make the leap off the cliff?  Emotional risk: the barrier to a trusted relationship, it’s the elephant in the room.  In order to take an emotional risk you need to take the emotional jump off the cliff and “name it and claim it”.  List as many caveats as necessary to slightly overcompensate for what you’re about to say—then say it.

One might speculate that in order to be empathic you first need to take the emotional risk and at that point emotional intelligence will play a factor.  Can it be the other way around?  A person’s empathic to an individual and hence they take the emotional risk and engage their emotional intelligence with another human being.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Naked Face,” it’s said our assessment of a situation starts from the very first facial expression.  From there we draw on our emotional intelligence and empathy to further assess the situation and then decide whether to take the emotional risk.  As the Naked Face states, “some are better at assessing a person’s facial expression then others” (Gladwell, 2014).

However, have you noticed that in today’s computer age and technological age, it seems to be getting harder and harder to do just that?  One would suggest that with all our technology we have forgotten how to talk, empathize and effectively communicate with one another.  We hid behind our keyboards and cellphones typing our thoughts and messages but yet we cannot see the other person’s facial expressions in order to make that initial facial emotions needed to empathize and be emotionally intelligent effectively.

As human beings we all need to develop and enhance our emotions throughout our lives and to the different situations we will encounter in order to effectively communicate with the people around us.


What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Definitions, History, and Measures of Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman
Emotional intelligence, social intelligence, ecological intelligence

A Tool for Emotional Risk Management — Name It and Claim It

Malcolm Gladwell’s “the Naked Face


Open Access Journals

What could possibly be better than knowledge at your fingertips and the extraordinary nature of the internet? Open Access Journals have given us instant information over recent years and it’s only getting more diverse. In a lot of instances we no longer need to go to the bookstore, the library or even to school, the information’s at our fingertips now in our living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, coffee shops and even our vehicles.

Open-access journals: scholarly journals available online to the reader “without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. Some can be subsidized, and some require payment on behalf of the author.

Some open-access journals can be subsidized and financed by an academic institution, learned society or a government information center. Others can be financed by payment of article processing charges by submitting authors, money typically made available to researchers by their institution or funding agency.

Two Journals I reviewed:

The Journal of Politics and Law (JPL): a double-blind peer-reviewed international journal dedicated to promoting scholarly exchange among teachers and researchers in the field of politics and law. The journal’s published quarterly in both print and online versions by the Canadian Center of Science and Education. The scope of JPL includes the following fields: political theory, political philosophy, political economy, comparative politics, international relations, legal history, legal theory, international law, constitutional and administrative law, criminal law, contract law, tort law, property law, equity and trusts. Encouraged to submit complete, unpublished, original, and full-length articles not under review in any other journals authors can submit their work. The online version of the journal creates free access and downloads to everyone.


The Behavioural Sciences Undergraduate Journal (BSUJ): a peer-reviewed, open-access, undergraduate journal focused in the behavioural sciences. The BSUJ’s a relatively new journal, its inaugural issue having been published in 2013.

Some Similarities:

  • Free for all to use and access;
  • Peer-reviewed;
  • Both have a wide array of topics within their disciplines;
  • Canadian based; and
  • Easy to navigate.

Some Differences:

  • JPL’s much larger and has been around for longer so it had more to navigate through the cite;
  • JPL had many more articles to view and review, based on its size;
  • BSUJ did not have a very clear checklist for the submission process whereas JPL outlines everything very clearly;
  • BSUJ allows submissions not necessarily first time published
    • Submissions include and not limited to:
    • commentary (on the field, on other papers, argue a point)
    • review (argue a larger point, bring research up to speed, compare models and definitions)
    • analysis (critical, qualitative, quantitative, experimental)
  • Whereas JPL has stricter publishing guidelines:
    • The submission has not been previously published, or it cannot be before another journal for consideration (or an explanation has been provided in Comments to the Editor).
    • The submission file must be in Microsoft Word file format.
    • Where available, URLs for the references have been provided.
    • The text adheres to the stylistic and bibliographic requirements outlined in the Author Guidelines, which can be found in About the Journal.
    • If submitting to a peer-reviewed section of the journal, the instructions in Ensuring a Blind Review have been followed.

Overall both journals demonstrated good, easy to read and informative articles and submissions.  I found that the ideology of the JPL and BSUJ demonstrated well the sense that all submissions must be peer-reviewed and go through a specific process as to what can be published in their respective journals.  I found that both journals had a good variety of articles but that the articles stayed within the scope of the journals disciplines.

“An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake of inquiry and knowledge. The new technology is the internet. The public good they make possible is the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds. Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.”


Open Access, Free Access to Law and Access to Canadian Legal Scholarship (Part 1) and (Part 2) By Louis Mirando


Journal of Politics and Law

Behavioural Sciences Undergraduate Journal


First Impressions             

“A first impression; the most important impression you’ll ever make—and you get only one chance to make it. Business deals can be made or broken, first dates become second dates or not, friendships get created or fail to form; everything hinges on that all-important initial encounter” (Demarais and White, 2005).  The same can be said for titles.  A title most often articulates the one chance an author gets to catch the attention of the reader.  In most cases titles can make or break the article, book, journal, etc., they create the foundation, the building blocks for an author’s work.

As a reader of many different types of articles the first thing I consider must be the title, if it’s not “catchy” sometimes I won’t read it.  I have found no matter how borrowing the topic, it’s the title that grabs my attention.  I have noticed recently that quite often even after being “grabbed” by the title that I continue to read the article or book long after I find it borrowing, mainly because I’m still hopeful that the catchy title will lead to something interesting in the article, journal, etc.  To me the title’s a promise of good things to come.


As composition and rhetoric scholars Maxine Hairston and Michael Keene explain, a good title does several things:

  • First, it predicts content;
  • Second, it catches the reader’s interest;
  • Third, it reflects the tone or slant of the piece of writing; and
  • Fourth, it contains keywords that will make it easy to access by a computer search.

Great titles create PINC (pronounced “pink”). They do at least one of the following: make a promise, create intrigue, identify a need, or simply state the content (Michael Hyatt, 2014).

The Colon

Now, the dreaded colon!  A colon: used to explain or start an enumeration. A colon ca also be used with ratios, titles and subtitles of books, city and publisher in bibliographies, etc.  It seems a lot of people don’t like the colon or it’s best friend, the semi-colon, however they can be very useful in title  Personally I like a colon in a title, I think it tells me a little bit more about what I’m about to read.  I also think it helps make a statement about the book or article.

Some rules to colon use:

    • the colon signals that what comes next directly related to the previous sentence;
    • only use them after statements that demonstrate complete sentences. Never use a colon after a sentence fragment; and
    • a title with two parts: On Privileged Grounds: Sport, Law, and Agamben’s State of Exception;


As I previously mentioned, a good title’s quite often why I read a certain article.  However, on the other side of the argument, what does a bad title create?  In my mind a bad title will deter the reader from taking a second look at the book or article, it can create a negative lookout on the author or the piece of literature, or it can even make the reader not read the article or book at all.  In my opinion the title reflects the work, therefore if they author has a bad title it can potentially lead to a bad first impression.

Potential Titles:

  • Sports and Law: An interdisciplinary look at today’s athlete;
  • The Law of Sports;
  • Today’s Super athletes;
  • Law today, a look back; and
  • Law and Sports: what’s reasonable?

Overall, I think most people would agree that a title needs to make a statement.  It defines the piece of work and it helps the reader choose.  Titles need to be clear, concise and to the point.  You only have one chance to make a first impression.


First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You Paperback – March 29, 2005, by Ann Demarais Ph.D. (Author), Valerie White Ph.D. (Author)

Hairston, Maxine, and Michael Keene. Successful Writing. 5th ed. New York: Norton, 2003.

Four Strategies for Creating Titles That Jump Off the Page – 2014
Michael Hyatt, Helping Leaders Leverage Influence (punctuation)


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