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WebTeam Resources

Avoid Using Passive Voice

  • Use MS Word's "Readability Statistics" to monitor and reduce use of passive voice.
    How to view readability statistics

  • Use of passive voice can create awkward sentences.

  • Overuse of passive voice throughout a passage can cause your prose to seem flat and uninteresting.

  • Use of passive voice in long and complicated sentences can cause readers to lose interest or to become confused.

  • Passive voice leads to dangling modifiers. (A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that modifies a word not clearly stated in the sentence.)

Examples

PassiveActive
The boy was bitten by the dog The dog bit the boy
The entrance exam was failed by over one-third of the applicants to the school. Over one-third of the students failed the entrance exam.
Founders of five of the eight proposed charter schools submitted for consideration this year have been invited by education officials to submit a final application for their school. Education officials invited the founders of the eight proposed charter schools to submit a final application.
In order to apply for the 2005 PAMST, a teacher must be nominated. A teacher must be nominated in order to apply for the 2005 PAMST.
In response to requests from several Massachusetts school districts, the following guidelines for the care of students with Comfort Care/Do Not Resuscitate Orders were developed in consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) Office of Emergency Medicine and the MDPH Legal Office. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) Office of Emergency Medicine and the MDPH Legal Office developed the following guidelines for the care of students with Comfort Care/Do Not Resuscitate Orders in response to requests from several Massachusetts school districts.
Passive sentences = 100% passive sentences = 0%


Last Updated: November 3, 2009
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