Passive Voice Misuse and And How To Fix Them

Passive voice misuse! Most teachers prefer their students to write in the active voice. Direct writing helps students fine-tune their message without tripping over grammar. Focusing on the subject allows the writers to grow a distinct writing style.

In a school teachers discourage the use of the passive voice in their students’ essays. Sometimes teachers will lower your grade on your paper for using the passive voice. These types of corrections cause people to believe the passive voice is bad; however, the passive voice is not bad. It’s just misunderstood.

In contrast, others lean into the passive voice. They think using an abundance of words makes them look more intelligent. The opposite of this is true. Using extra words to look fancier dilutes your argument in your writing. Choose crisp clean sentences more often to keep your readers engaged.

Passive Voice Misuse

How to Change a Sentence from Passive to Active?

If you are not using the passive voice deliberately you need to use the active voice. The majority of writing must be in the active form and most uses of the passive voice are unintentional.

Passive Voice Example

  • A mistake happened with your credit card bill, but efforts were made to fix it.

In the passive voice, the sentence appears stuffy and evasive. The credit card company’s failure to take responsibility for their action suggests deception. No one wants to work with a company that lacks the respect to be honest with their customers. By not accepting their culpability the credit card company scares off their clientele.

To correct a grammar accident you need to restructure the sentence. By rewriting the sentence in the active voice the credit card company’s reputation will not suffer.

Active Voice Rewrite Example

  • We made a mistake with your credit card bill, but we have made every effort to fix it.

The sentence becomes active when you drop “we” into it. In addition, changing the verb from the past participle to the past tense makes the sentence active. When the sentence is active the company appears reliable and forthright.

Correct Weak Structure

Improve any sentence by including the subject. The subject fleshes out the details of a sentence and grants the reader more clarity.

  • If any problems arise, contact me Friday.

Identify the subject to make this sentence easier to understand. To find the subject look for the person addressed in the text. If the subject does not appear in any clause in the sentence you may be able to infer it.

The subject missing in the above example is “you”. You are the person who will need to contact the assistant.

  • If you have any problems, you can call me Friday.

With the subject included the conversation seems more intimate instead of generic.

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