to work hard to use the correct grammar.
voice, simpler words, and shorter sentences and paragraphs.
that if you understand exactly what you want to say. There is no room for
ambiguity with plain language.
writing and that is where the challenge lies. You are so used to writing and
reading in this style that it makes passive voice hard to spot.
Remember that it is the word order you want to change.
The CEO made the announcement.
The announcement was made by the CEO.
The announcement was made.
Check sentence length. The longer your sentences are, the more likely you are to
lapse into the passive voice. Reduce your sentence length. Split them, if necessary.
Identify the subject. Who is the doer in the sentence? The subject should be
first. Simply ask: who does what?
Identify the verb. It’ll
help you to identify the subject.
Identify the object. If the sentence is passive the object will be first.
Rewrite to follow the subject-verb-object
What if there is no subject? At times, we do not know who did what. If there is no
subject you might have to leave the sentence in the passive voice, but try to figure out who
The report was written by Mr Jones.ACTIVE: Mr Jones wrote the
report.The annual results were released by the auditors on the
23rd of June and the board was relieved when the markets rallied and
the share price increased.ACTIVE: The auditors
released the annual results on the 23rd of June. The markets rallied
and the share price increased, much to the relief of the board.The line managers were instructed by the CEO to
re-evaluate the evacuation protocols of the factory.ACTIVE: The CEO instructed
the line managers to re-evaluate the evacuation protocols of the factory.
The Hemingway App will help to identify passive voice . You
can also use readability statistics in Microsoft Word.
If you are interested in learning how to improve your business writing skills, join us for The Plain Language Programme.
by Mia Botha
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