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Active and Passive Voices

Passive Voice
The passive voice emphasizes the action being performed rather than the person doing the action The passive voice has two main uses:

To present ideas objectively

To avoid using names or assigning blame


An unfortunate error has occurred.

(Showing that the results are more important than the person doing the work) The surveys were tabulated.

Construction of passive voice sentences:


They begin with a thing rather than a person They use a two-word verb
is

or was followed by a past-tense verb

They sometimes end with a phrase starting with by that identifies the doer of the action
All

expenses were approved by the CEO.


Two-word verb

Starts with a thing

Can be left out

Active Voice
The active voice is preferred for most type of business writing because it is shorter, more personal, and more forceful In active voice sentences, the subject of the verb performs the action
I

heated the solution You made a mistake

Exercise
Instructions:
Decide

whether each of the following sentences uses the active or passive voice Then decide whether it should be changed from one to the other. Be prepared to justify your answer When necessary, write down the revised version The first one is done for you

Sample Answer
The new procedure is thought to be superior by the president.
Active Voice Passive Voice

It should be written in the active voice


The

president thinks the new procedure is superior

Exercise
1. I left the window open last night and killed all the plants. 2. Verification of passwords must be done on a daily basis by security personnel. 3. The observer saw the needle on the gauge jump into the red zone at the same time the circuit overloaded. 4. I cannot approve your loan until you have provided us with collateral. 5. We made a major error by spelling our clients name wrong in the report. 6. The editing of the financial reports was done over the weekend by the accountant.

Exercise (continued)
7. You failed to submit the application before the due date 8. We should not have ordered a separate phone line for each person in the office. 9. It was suggested by the project manager that construction schedules be revised to take advantage of the unusually warm weather. 10. We must delay filling your order because of problems with our supplier. 11. You must send an additional payment of $12 so that we can process your order. 12. The software was installed incorrectly on your computer.