Does the passive form of verb instead of the active form give the sentence a more formal or professional look?

The previous question attracted me to ask this question.

For example in an academic thesis of a student:

Second, by using the […] and […], an attempt was made to find an appropriate model.

In compare with:

Second, by using the […] and […], we/they/[…] tried to find an appropriate model.


In the context which you supply, it does indeed look more “formal”; whether that is also more “professional” will depend upon your profession.

By and large, the sciences (hard and soft) and the disciplines which emulate them tend to prefer any literary device which conceals the participation of the writer. The humanities at one time emulated this impersonality but are now mostly forsaking it. Some writers and editors, indeed, actually deprecate any use of the passive; but I think this is largely a reaction to overuse.

There is an excellent discussion of the matter at Duke entitled “Passive Voice in Scientific Writing“; despite its narrow focus its advice seems to me of value to any writer.

My own advice is that you examine the practice of writers whose works you admire and emulate that.

Source : Link , Question Author : Persian Cat , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus

Leave a Comment