Passive voice occurs when you use the object of an action as the subject of a sentence, often incorporating a form of the verb “to be”. Example: “Higher insurance premiums will be charged to employees not participating in the wellness program.” Passive voice can make it hard to catch the meaning.

More importantly, passive voice makes it hard for readers to quickly visualize what’s happening. When you restructure a passive sentence using a subject and active verb, it is much easier to visualize who is doing what. Example: “Nonparticipating employees must pay higher insurance premiums.”

This is clearer, because your brain can first understand who we’re talking about (Employees), THEN visualize what they’re doing (paying) to what (insurance premiums).

If you begin the sentence with the object (premiums), the brain at first doesn’t know what to do with that info. Then it learns who’s doing what (customer, paying), and it has to go back for a split second and remind itself of the object. More help with passive voice from The Writing Center >>