If you compare action vs. non action words you can easily see the difference. Following are explanations, reasons to use one or the other, and lots of examples.
Action words, or action verbs, simply express an action. The action is something you are doing and includes sleeping, thinking, sitting, and napping, even though you are not active. Other examples are:
Non action words, or non action verbs, do not refer to an action, but represent a state of being, need, opinion, sense, or preference. Examples are the “be” verbs, like: am, are, was, were, is, has been, and had.
More examples of non action words are: prefer, like, love, want, need, appear, seem, possess, think, believe, consider, and own. Referring to the senses, non action words are: look, smell, feel, taste, and sound.
When you are writing, you have to choose between action vs. non action words. This decision will depend on what kind of writing you are doing. When you write in the active voice, your sentences will be more positive and concise. The active voice adds impact to your writing and makes it stronger. Using action words is part of the process of active writing. Another part is having the subject doing the action, and not having the action done to the subject. Here are some examples:
You can see from these sentences that the active voice is more interesting and strong, whereas the passive voice is weak and less concise. The passive voice in writing can also be confusing to the reader, because it is not precise and uses more words. Many times the passive voice is awkward because you have to work harder to figure out who did what. It can also be vague and is used a lot by politicians, businesses, and advertisers to obscure the facts and place blame elsewhere. For example:
If you are writing a mystery story or novel, you may deliberately be vague. You may want to place emphasis on “the painting that was taken” rather than on who is responsible, especially if you won’t reveal that information until later in the book or story. Crime reports often have to be written in the passive voice because all the facts were not available. You would have to say “the store was robbed” if you don’t know who did it yet.
Another place that the passive voice may be used is in reporting on scientific findings. The passive voice will keep the author’s opinions out of the writing, so the sentence may read like this: Data supports the theory that this disease is caused by bacteria XYZ. That is better than saying: This disease is caused by the bacteria XYZ.
Five of the following sentences are active and five are passive. Remember that the state of being verbs are usually used in passive sentences, like: are, am, were, is, was, and has been. Also pay attention to the person or thing doing the action.
Answers: The odd numbered questions are active, and the even numbered ones are passive.
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