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Grammatik auf Englisch - "Aktiv" macht fit

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Aktiv Englisch, Passiv Englisch, Englisches Aktiv, Englisches Passiv

Bureaucratic English is a real problem in business communication. With the hope of sounding professional, writers often pollute what could otherwise be clear, powerful text with over-exaggerated vocabulary, idiomatic clichés, and complex sentences that weaken the strength of their communication. One of the biggest obstacles to strength is the use of the passive voice, which for many is a bad habit. Here’s the background information you need to nip this problem in the bud.

The active voice

Most statements in English are in the active voice. The structure of active-voice statements reflects the basic sentence structure of English:

subject – verb – object

Examples:
Sarah sent an email.
I ate lunch.

The active voice has a few traits that make it excellent for business communication. Sentences in the active voice are:
Short
Clear
Easy to read


The passive voice
We use ( or should use ) the passive voice less often because its purpose is to allow sentences to:

Put greater focus on the object than on the subject
Describe situations where the subject is not known

The structure is also different than the active voice:

subject – be – participle

Examples:
Our procedures are reviewed every month.
Robert was promoted last week.

When the subject follows the object, we sometimes use by:
Our procedures are reviewed every month by an external consulting firm.
Sometimes we use with instead of by for clarity:
The victim was killed with a gun. ( The gun was not the murderer. By makes it sound as if the gun was the murderer. )
You can run every passive situation through the full conjugation of all tenses:

Simple
Present: James is often quoted.
Past: James was often quoted.
Future: James will be often quoted.
Conditional: James would be often quoted.

Continuous ( be + being )
Present: James is being often quoted.
Past: James was being often quoted.
Future: James will be being often quoted.
Conditional: James would be being often quoted.

Perfect ( have + been )
Present: James has been often quoted.
Past: James had been often quoted.
Future: James will have been often quoted.
Conditional: James would have been often quoted.

Perfect Continuous ( have + been + being )
Present: James has been being often quoted.
Past: James had been being often quoted.
Future: James will have been being often quoted.
Conditional: James would have been being often quoted.

The passive pitfall
At some point in the recent past, someone decided the passive voice is excellent for customer communication. It does take the strength out of certain statements, for example:

Active: It looks like you made a mistake.
Passive: It looks like a mistake has been made.

This brings to light one of the important usages of the passive in business: to avoid placing blame and instead put the direct focus on a problem and its solution.
This is a very useful technique. Unfortunately, it has a tendency to turn into a habit that extends beyond the need to avoid assigning guilt. One of the worst, and yet most frequent uses of the passive voice is in the customer acquisition process.
The passive shows up in many places it should not, for example in Web text, brochures, and business letters. Here are a few examples:

Example 1

Active ( strong ): We designed this product to eliminate the need to hire an external consultant.

Passive ( weak ): This product was designed to allow you to eliminate the need to hire an external consultant.

Example 2

Active ( strong ): We received the products you returned yesterday.

Passive ( weak ): The products you returned were received by us yesterday.

You may have noticed that the passive-voice version sounds more formal, and for some reason, we learn that this sounds more professional. Whether or not this is correct is beside the point. Business communication today requires directness, clarity, and brevity. There’s just too much out there for people to read. In the examples above, the active versions of the sentence may not feel as formal, but from a stylistic point of view they are more effective for a number of reasons:

They are shorter, faster, and easier to read because they conform to the standard, ‘active’ sentence structure

They communicate directly from the speaker to the reader without sounding like ‘dry information’

For this reason, it pays to avoid using the passive voice in all of your communication except for the original purpose of the passive voice:

To put greater focus on the object than on the subject
To describe situations where the subject is not known

Review what you write. Change your speaking habits. Focus on using the active voice. If you can invent a subject where no subject is known and it makes sense, do so. Reserve the passive for those occasions when it is truly necessary — in other words: when for good business reasons it is unavoidable.

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Aktiv Englisch, Passiv Englisch, Englisches Aktiv, Englisches Passiv

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