In the context of Large Language Models (LLMs), the use of active and passive voice in more complex prompts related to cooking can shape the communication style. Active voice emphasizes the subject performing the action, like “Describe how chefs prepare a gourmet dish.” This prompt highlights the role of chefs and their actions in the cooking process. Passive voice shifts the focus to the action itself, as in “Explain the process by which a gourmet dish is prepared.” This prompt centers on the process without specifically mentioning the chefs. Choosing between active and passive voice allows users to highlight specific aspects, such as the role of individuals or the process itself, shaping the LLM’s response style and directing the focus of the conversation.
Active and passive voice are two different ways of constructing sentences in English.
In active voice sentences, the subject performs the action directly. The subject is the “doer” of the action, and the sentence structure typically follows the subject-verb-object pattern.
Active Voice: “John baked a delicious cake for the party.”
In this sentence, “John” (the subject) performs the action of baking (the verb) directly on the cake (the object).
In passive voice sentences, the subject is acted upon, and the focus is shifted from the doer of the action to the recipient or object of the action. The sentence structure follows the object-verb-subject pattern, and a form of the auxiliary verb “to be” is used along with the past participle of the main verb.
Passive Voice: “A delicious cake was baked by John for the party.”
In this sentence, the cake (the object) becomes the subject, and it is the recipient of the action “baked” performed by John (the doer).
In an LLM (large language model) context, active voice is generally the dominant form used. This is because active voice tends to be more concise and direct, which is important for generating effective prompts that guide the language model towards generating accurate and relevant text. Additionally, active voice is generally considered more authoritative and engaging, which can enhance the overall effectiveness of the language model.
However, there are some situations where passive voice may be more appropriate. For example, when the focus is on the object of the sentence rather than the subject, or when the subject is unknown or unimportant. In these situations, passive voice can be used to create a more neutral or objective tone. In a creative writing context passive voice can add variety and stylistic effect.
By utilizing active voice as the dominant form in an LLM context you can create prompts that are concise, direct, and engaging. However, also be aware of situations where passive voice may be more appropriate, in order to create prompts that accurately reflect the intended meaning and tone.
Active voice is often preferred when you want to:
By considering the context and purpose of your writing, you can determine when active voice is more appropriate to accurately reflect your intended meaning and tone. FYI these prompts below are set in an organisational / business / corporate context: