How to Fix Sentences with a Passive Voice Misuse Corrector: Best Practices

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Pros and Cons of Using Passive Voice in Sentences

Most students and beginning writers are told that using passive voice is bad writing. However, before you employ a passive voice misuse corrector to change every sentence in your paper to active voice, you should know that there are times when using passive voice is acceptable.

Some of the pros of using passive voice include:

  • When the subject is unknown. If the person/thing performing the action isn’t known the use of passive voice is appropriate.
  • To emphasize the object. The subject is the person or thing performing the action and the object is the person/thing the action is performed on. When you want to emphasize the object, using the passive voice is acceptable.
  • To emphasize the action. Passive voice may be used when the writer wants the focus to be on the action performed rather than who or what performed the action
  • To conceal the subject. There may be times when you find it desirable to hide the subject performing the action such as when you want to avoid placing blame.
using passive voice like a pro, errors to avoid, myths vs facts, editing checklist

Using passive voice can also have negative effects on your writing. The major cons of using passive voice are:

  • Less concise. It usually takes more words to say something in passive voice than it does in active voice.
  • Harder to understand. Sentences written in passive voice can be harder to understand as it is more difficult to identify the subject plus more words are being used.
  • More difficult to connect to the reader. Using passive voice can distance the reader from what you are trying to say and the message may be more difficult to understand. Typically you want to engage the reader.
when fixing passive voice is not needed

While there are times when using passive voice is appropriate you should know how to switch from passive to active voice. A passive or active voice checker can be a valuable tool when trying to determine which voice you should be writing in.

Basic Rules for Correcting Passive Voice Misuse

There are 3 parts to fixing passive voice misuse. First is identifying passive voice in sentences. Secondly when passive voice is identified you must evaluate the sentence to determine if it is being used appropriately. Finally if misuse is determined you must know how to fix a passive voice mistake. Here are ten rules that make up the process of how to fix passive voice misuse:

Identify passive voice

  • Identify a passive sentence by looking for forms of “to be” in a sentence followed by a past participle. The forms of “to be” are:  was, is, am, are, have been, has, will be, being and will have been. Ex: Jogging is something I do.”
  • Look for an action word followed by the word “by” to identify a passive sentence. Ex: “The chocolate was eaten by Mary.”
  • Missing subject. When the person/thing performing the action is missing it indicates passive voice is being used. Ex: “A mistake was made.”

Evaluate

  • Ask yourself is the subject known? Ex: “My house was robbed” (passive) or “The thief robbed my house.” (active)
  • Is it important that the reader know who/what the subject is? Ex: “The letter was delivered at 2 p.m.” Does the reader need to know who delivered the letter?
  • Do you want the subject to remain anonymous? Ex: “A mistake was made.” (passive) Or do you want to assign blame. “The president made a mistake.”(active)
  • Do you want to emphasize the object? Ex: “The bridge was built in 1979.” (passive) or “Construction workers built the bridge in 1979.”(active). Which is more important for your purpose, the bridge or the construction workers?

Change from passive to active

  • Order the sentence so that it is in the subject/verb/object format. “John[subject] kicked[verb] the door[object] in.”
  • Add a subject. Ex: “The ball was thrown” can be made active by adding a subject. “Cindy threw the ball.”
  •  For passive sentences identified by an action word followed by the word “by” move the subject to the front of the sentence and remove the auxiliary verb plus the word “by”. Ex: “The ball was thrown by John” becomes “John threw the ball.”

This process can be a little complicated and confusing to many of us. Not everybody knows how to change passive verbs to active or even when you want to change them. A passive to active voice converter tool not only identifies when passive voice is being used. It will also make suggestions on how to fix passive voice misuse.

Benefits of Our Active vs. Passive Voice Checker

Different types of text require using active and passive voice in different ways. It can be extremely difficult, especially in academic writing. You want to present your paper in a formal and objective manner while at the same time write concisely in a way that is not too difficult to understand. This may require switching from passive to active voice and pack again. A passive voice finder is extremely helpful in such situations. It identifies sentences written is passive voice and also suggests adjustments you can make to improve your text.

how passive or active voice checker works

There are a number of benefits to be gained from using our passive voice editor aside from it showing you how to fix a passive voice mistake. It also functions as a grammar, spelling, punctuation and dictionary checker and checks word usage as well. In addition it can be used for any type of text including academic papers and essays, articles, blog posts, business emails and more. Students, bloggers, writers and businesspeople are just a few of those that will find our passive voice analyzer useful. It is fast and easy to use and with all the additional features it makes an ideal proofreading and editing tool for anybody. 

For consistently clear and concise writing try our passive voice misuse corrector and see how your papers and other texts improve.