Education About Using Passive Verbs in Communication and Digital Marketing Programs
Im not afraid to break a few marketing rules. In my world, ending a sentence with a preposition isnt unheard of. Sentence fragments? Ill use them when the mood strikes. And (gasp) Ill even start the occasional sentence with a conjunction.
But until recently, passive verbs were a no go in a my digital marketing strategies.
I heeded my AP English teachers advice to circle all the verbs on the page and rewrite any sentence that dared include a passive verb (confession: I often skip that first step but dont tell Mrs. Englemeyer).
Then, while I was earning a post-bach certificate in writing, the professor shocked me by telling us that, when used judiciously, passive verbs are actually very handy ecommerce development research.
Say your client has a nasty habit of inserting errors into your copy, then blaming you. Instead of saying, you changed the copy yourself, you numbskull!!! you could write, The copy I filed had the correct information, but errors were inserted later on. Would you like me to resend the original version? (In case youre unclear on active vs. passive verbs, the phrase were inserted is passive because its unclear who is performing the action. In this case, inserting errors.)
Its a diplomatic way of setting the record straight without assigning blame. The recipient can connect the dots for you.
Then last week, I took a copyediting class, and the professor made another argument for passive voice. After I suggested restructuring a sentence so the actor was more clear, she answered, actually, passive voice isnt so bad. In this context, it helps vary the syntax. In other words, you dont want every sentence to follow the exact same structure, so throwing in the occasional passive verb helps mix things up. *Hangs head in embarrassment*
I still think Mrs. Englemeyer was right to make us aware of passive voice, but Im starting to see that there are a few instances where it isnt so bad. In fact, there are times when it should be used. Embraced, even.
What do you think? Is there a place for passive verbs? Or do you side with Mrs. Englemeyer on this one?