The Symptoms of Passive Voice and Three Cures
Follow Lily’s advice when using active and passive voice. You don’t have to be a grammarian to recognize passive voice. First, find the verb by asking yourself, “What’s happening in this sentence?” Then find the actor by asking, “Who’s doing it?” If the actor comes after the verb, it’s passive voice. Look for the word “by” before the actor. Also, watch for these forms of the verb to be (am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been) and a main verb usually ending in -ed or -en. Let’s look at a few examples and then try the cures, below.
Passive: The mouse was eaten by the cat.
Active: The cat ate the mouse.
Passive: Livelier sentences will be written by you.
Active: You will write livelier sentences.
Passive: Water is drunk by everybody.
Active: Everybody drinks water.
Ways to change from passive to active.
- Put the Actor (Doer) Before the Verb.
This: The handlers must have broken the part.
Not: The part must have been broken by the handlers.
2. Drop Part of the Verb.
This: The results are in the attachment.
Not: The results are listed in the attachment.
3. Change the Verb.
This: The replacement has not arrived yet.
Not: The replacement has not been received yet.