Friday, February 26, 2010

You Can Avoid the Passive Voice

Here are ways to avoid the passive.

1. Read aloud from a hard copy of your manuscript. Whenever you spot a passive verb or a state-of-being verb, circle it in red. That will help you trap those weak verbs and passive statements. Then rewrite the sentence.

2. You can set most computers to flag passive verbs. In Word, under Tools, go to Options and click Spelling and Grammar and go to Writing Style. If you click that, Word will flag the passive voice. (Notice that I didn’t write, "The passive voice will be flagged by Word").

3. Do a global search for particular words. For example, passive words need a helping verb such as was or had. Don't feel you must delete every use. Ask yourself, "Does this work? Is this what I want to say?" (I used is in that sentence.)

State-of-being verbs are useful. That's why they're part of the language.


  1. Cec,

    Thanks so much for your practical advice on writing. I love advice, that is not over the top of my head, that I can immediately put into use. I was at your conferance in San Antanio. I love what you said about still reading grammer books. You greatly inspired me. But your blog is the best it is wonderful to get guidence from you on a regular basis. God Bless.


  2. Thanks for the tip! Going to find that "passive" flag tool and use it.

  3. Cec,
    So glad to have discovered your blog :-) Your subjects are so right on to what I need right now in my novel revision. Thank you! We met at Write-to-Publish 2007, and I remember how helpful and inspiring you were then, too...

  4. Cec,
    Thank you so much for this great tip. I just completed a chapter revision to correct passive voice. The Word tool found 3 more spots, one being a Bible verse. Guess God sometimes uses passive voice, too!

  5. So glad I found this site it is packed to the gills full of amazing advice. I rarely subscribe to newsletters anymore. But this one is worth it.


  6. Sir can you tell me what will be the passive form of this sentence.
    "The grass grew over the field"


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