Suggest improvements for the highlighted problem area:
The Congo River has many personalities. At Malebo Pool, the river is fed into a wide basin where many islands rest in the placid waters. Downstream, the waters reflect the images and sounds of civilization between the cities of Kinshasa and Brazzaville. Farther on, a wild and turbulent nature is shown as it rushes down to the Atlantic. After coursing through the Crystal Mountains, it roars down a stupendous series of rapids and cataracts.
- Active Voice -
For our writing to be clear we should in general prefer the active voice. In the active voice, it is clear who or what is doing the acting described by the verb. In the passive voice the sentence puts the emphasis on who or what is being acted upon. Our opening paragraph begins with a passive voice construction:
At Malebo Pool, the river is fed into a wide basin where many islands rest in the placid waters.
When recast in the active voice, the sentence provides the reader with a more direct narrative:
At Malebo Pool, the river feeds into a wide basin where many islands rest in the placid waters.
Using the active voice is not mandatory; sometimes the passive voice is very useful. We might want to de-emphasize the actor (the river), or draw attention to the action (is fed), or emphasize the subject receiving the action (the basin). For each of these cases, the passive voice is preferred. Otherwise, we should favor the active voice.
Often the change from passive to active voice is easy to accomplish, as is shown in the following examples:
Tributaries from as far away as the Mitumba Mountains are combined to form the mighty Congo.
Tributaries from as far away as the Mitumba Mountains combine to form the mighty Congo.
The width of the river is increased at Malebo Pool.
The width of the river increases at Malebo Pool.
In the canyons of the Crystal Mountains, the river is turned back and forth.
In the canyons of the Crystal Mountains, the river turns back and forth.
At Matadi, the countries of Zaire and Angola are connected by a large suspension bridge.
At Matadi, the countries of Zaire and Angola connect by a large suspension bridge.