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English 101: Using Active Voice

 Writing in an active voice simple means the subject of the sentence is doing the action. Using active voice adds more zing to your writing. Passive voice lacks punch because the subject is receiving the action instead of doing the action.

The chart below has examples of active and passive voice.


Active voice Passive voice
The boy kicks the ball. (boy is the subject doing the action) The ball was kicked by the boy. (ball is the subject receiving the action)
Joey caught the big fish. The big fish was caught by Joey.
Mr. Yammy produced the album of the year “Love songs for my sweet potatoes.” The album of the year “Love songs for my sweet potatoes” was produced by Mr. Yammy.
The early bird catches the worm. The worm is can be caught by the early bird.
Joseph Priestly discovered oxygen in 1774. Oxygen was discovered in 1774 by Joseph Priestley.
Most crabs live in salt water. Salt water is where most crabs live.
The students did volunteer work for extra credit. Volunteer work was done by the students for extra credit.
The President vetoed the new tax law. The new tax law was vetoed by the President.
The dog bit the mailman. The mailman was bitten by the dog.
The dog guards the house. The house was guarded by the dog.



Extra tip: Watch out for verbs ending in “ed” and “en” and use “to be” verbs (be, am, is are, was, were, being, been) sparingly.



Men of few words are the best men. 
William Shakespeare


What is the Flesch-Kincaid score?

The Flesch Kincaid table rates content on a 100 point scale, the easier your content is to read the higher it rates on the scale. Overall a score below 30 is rated very difficult to read. A score in the mid-70’s is generally written around an eighth or ninth grade reading level.

As a reference point, most newspapers write to a 5th grade reading level.

On the Flesch-Kincaid score research shows that a score of 70 or higher is good for adult readers. This is why it’s vital to write for your intended audience, on average it’s good to keep to a 5 grade reading level, using simple words that don’t

have a lot of syllables.

Flesch-Kincaid chart:


Style Flesch Reading Ease Score Average sentence length in words Average syllables per 100 words Estimated School Grade Completed Estimated Percent of U.S. Adults
Very Easy 90-100 8 or fewer 123 or fewer 4th grade 93
Easy 80-90 11 131 5th grade 91
Fairly Easy 70-80 14 139 6th grade 88
Standard 60-70 17 147 7th or 8th grade 83
Fairly Difficult 50-60 21 155 Some High School 54
Difficult 30-50 25 167 High School or some college 33
Very Difficult 0-30 29 or more 192 or more College 4.5

Most Microsoft word programs have a Flesch Kincaid reading score tracker built into the system.

Activating Flesch-Kincaid on Microsoft word:

  1. On the tools menu, click options, then click the Spelling & Grammar tab.
  2. Choose the Check grammar with spelling box.
  3. Select the Show readability statistics check box, and then click OK.
  4. On the Standard toolbar, click Spelling and Grammar.

When you activate the Spell Check feature, after word finishes checking the spelling and grammar a window labeled the Readability Statistics will pop-up with the Flesch-Kincaid reading level listed under Readability.












“Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.” Author, Joan Didion

English 101: Making the transition

Transition words and phrases bridge what has been said with what will be said. They help readers move from sentence to sentence and connect your ideas together.

Here are some common transition words and when to use them.

To show addition To show contrast To show time To give examples
and, also, besides, in addition, moreover, first, next, too but, however, on the other hand, in contrast, nevertheless, even though, yet, although before, during, next, later, finally, meanwhile, immediately for example, for instance, to illustrate, specifically