JS Tip 298: Active and Passive Voice, Part III

Tips from Jefferson Smith Training and Consulting

** From the Writing Workshops: Active and Passive Voice III

We explored this topic a long time ago. We’ve had recent inquiries, so we’re exploring the topic again in a series of tips. This is the third in the series.

Rewriting Passive Voice

You can rewrite passive into active in four steps:

One: Identify the action going on in the sentence: “The report was written by Sarah.” Writing. Yup. That's what's going on.

Two: Identify the do-er of the action: “The report was written by Sarah.” Sarah. She's doing the writing.

Three: Move the do-er of the action to the beginning of the sentence: Sarah . . . .

Four: Let the action of the sentence flow from the do-er of the action: “Sarah wrote the report.”


“The report was approved by the audit committee.”

(Let's see: approving . . . audit committee . . . The audit committee . . . .)

“The audit committee approved the report.” (Eight words down to six. A twenty-five percent weight loss.)

“Applications must be turned in by Friday.” (A tough one.)

(Turning in . . . . whoa. No actor. No do-er. What? You? Implied?)

“Turn in your applications by Friday.”

This is called “imperative mode” or “command mode.” The “you” is implied or assumed: “Hey, YOU!” “What?” “Turn in your application by Friday!” “Okay!” (Seven words down to six. Fourteen percent.)

We love this stuff.

** Recent Tips

JS Tip 297: Active and Passive Voice, Part II
JS Tip 296: Active and Passive Voice, Part I
JS Tip 295: Some More Discussion about Honesty
JS Tip 294: Some Answers about Lying
JS Tip 293: A Think Piece


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