• Kayla Henley

Avoid Using The Passive Voice While Writing

Want to strengthen your writing but unsure where to start? Eliminating the passive voice is a great place to begin.


What is the passive voice? When using the passive voice in a sentence, the subject is acted upon. An example is: “The boy was bitten by the dog.”


One clear giveaway that the passive voice is being used is by the presence of the word “was.” When a conjugation of the verb “be” (was, were, am, is, are, been) follows a verb, it is usually a sign of the passive voice.


“The test was failed by the students.”

“The customers were helped by an employee.”

“The presentation will be presented by the boss.”

“The strategy is being planned by the team.”


In all these cases, the subjects (the boy, the students, the shoppers, the presentation, and the strategy) are on the receiving end of an action. To make your writing stronger, try the following rearrangement:


“The dog bit the boy.”

“The students failed the test.”

“An employee helped the customers.”

“The boss will present the presentation.”

“The team is planning the strategy.”


Notice how these sentences are shorter and more direct? By doing this simple rearrangement, these sentences are to-the-point rather than watered down by the passive voice. It is a simple way to make your writing punchier and stronger.


To learn more about the passive voice and how to recognize it, check out Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) here.


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