Everyone faces this problem at the beginning of their content writing career, called Passive Voice. Well, it happens not because of your lack of writing experience but because of the demand in the industry.
SEO tools, Google crawlers, Editing tools, and everyone loves reading in active voice.
But why? Because it’s easy to read. And most users don’t like reading, not at least complicated sentences.
Excessive use of passive voice reduces your content’s readability score. That’s why you should keep the sentences active, making them easier to read & understand.
If you use editing tools like Grammarly or Hemmingway Editor, you’ll notice that they detect the passive voice, but you’ll have to fix it yourself.
So how to avoid passive voice?
There’s only one way – master grammatical skills. If you know the lessons like “Voice change” and “Transformation of sentence,” passive voice will not be an issue for you.
Okay, let’s see practically how you can fix passive voice in your writing.
3 Simple Ways to Fix Passive Voice
If you were a good student at English Grammer, this problem would not be an issue for you. There is nothing but some grammatical techniques I apply to write in active voice.
1. Find the subject/doer
Sometimes, we unknowingly make the sentence in passive voice. It can happen due to the missing ‘subject’ or ‘doer’ of the verbs. So, first, you need to find who is doing the task.
Let’s see some examples.
Passive = “John was punished for misbehavior in the classroom.”
Active = “The teacher punished John for his misbehavior in the classroom.”
Here, in the first sentence, the doer (teacher) who punished (verb) John was missing. Hence, I brought the ‘teacher’ as a doer/subject of the verb ‘punished’ in the second sentence to make it active.
Here’s another example;
Passive = “iPhone 14 Pro Max was launched on September 16, 2022.”
Active = “Apple launched iPhone 14 Pro Max on September 16, 2022.”
2. Use the ‘Person’ as the subject; not a non-living
While writing a “how-to guide” content, for instance– “how to clean a vacuum cleaner,” we often make this mistake. Instead of placing the reader as the subject, we put the thing in the doer’s place.
Here you can use ‘You/We’ as a subject to fix the passive voice.
Let’s take a look at this example.
Passive = “It has a container that can be emptied when it becomes full.”
Active = “It has a container that you can empty when it becomes full.”
Instead of placing the material thing or non-living object before the verb, try to bring out a living being or pronoun. It will make the verb active, and the object will find a doer.
Passive = “When Mom was home, dinner was served at sharp 8 PM.”
Active = “When mom was home, she served the dinner at sharp 8 PM.”
3. Remove the sentence
Yes, you saw it right.
Sometimes, we make unnecessary passive voices. And if you remove them from the paragraph, it will not cause anything harmful. However, make sure that the sentence is not very essential. Otherwise, you have the 1st and 2nd methods.
However, I’d recommend transforming instead of omitting the sentence; it’d be much better. Apart from that, you can exclude the ‘verb’ and use ‘adjective’.
Okay, let’s see some examples.
Passive= “While creating the outline, which is written from in-depth research, make sure it relates to the topic.”
Active= “While creating the outline, written from in-depth research, make sure it relates to the topic.”
Active= “While creating the outline, make sure it relates to the topic.”
The first sentence contains a passive voice – “is written,” which I’ve transformed in the second sentence. On the other hand, the third sentence does not have that phrase in it.
How to fix passive voice misuse in Grammarly?
Though Grammarly detects the passive voice and asks to fix it, it doesn’t show any auto-generated suggestions. Thereby, you have to resolve this all yourself.
Alright, now, let’s see how to fix passive voices in Grammarly. I have pointed out some of the very basic issues we usually face.
To make things more precise, I’ve mentioned some images.
The passive voice sentence – “as these areas can often be overlooked.”
Here, you can add a doer to the verb ‘overlook.’ It can be ‘we’ or ‘you,’ or ‘people.’ So the final result will be something like this;
👉 “as we often overlook these areas.”
👉 “as you could likely overlook these areas.”
👉 “as people often overlook these areas.”
Passive voice – “The bristles on the upholstery brush are typically made of soft….”
Well, here, there’s an unnecessary phrase. In such situations, you can transform the sentence by cutting it down and making it short.
The output would be like this;
👉 “The soft & flexible bristles on the upholstery brush won’t damage….”
Passive voice – “…repeat the process until the stain is completely removed.”
In such scenarios, using an additional verb like ‘get’ or ‘become’ is very useful to avoid passive voice. And surprisingly, it will keep the meaning the same as before.
Let’s see it practically.
👉 “…repeat the process until it becomes completely stain free.”
As you can see, I’ve added the verb ‘becomes’ and the adjective ‘free’ to avoid passive voice without changing the meaning.
When to use passive voice?
You can use the passive voice when the object is in the primary focus. Additionally, it’s better to write in the passive voice when the doer is unknown or missing. In both situations, the sentence feels natural and doesn’t lose readability.
Even though Grammarly and other writing tools suggest avoiding passive voice, you shouldn’t always follow them. Remember, sometimes, the passive voice becomes necessary in certain situations.
Let’s take a look at these;
“John was awarded as the best content writer.”
Here, John is the primary focus, not the body that provides the award. Therefore, it represents exclusive exaggeration to the point which is the awardee, John. Hence, the passive voice feels good to read.
Let’s see some other similar examples.
👉 Terracotta was discovered in Gujrat and Rajasthan.
👉 iPhone is known for its mind-blowing technology.
* Sometimes, there’s no doer or subject of the verb. In this situation, the passive voice looks more natural than the active. Here are some examples –
👉 Siliguri is located in the foothill of Darjeeling.
👉 The car’s headlight was broken.
In the first sentence, there’s no doer to place Siliguri in the foothill of Darjeeling. It’s been there since its inception. While in the second sentence, the doer is unknown because there’s no explanation about who broke the headlight.
Passive voice is nothing wrong in writing. You just need to know when and where to use it. Always remember, as a content writer, your concern is to provide things as precisely as possible. And since most internet users read at 6-8 grade level, the writing should be easy enough to understand.
I’ve tried to explain things as simply as possible. I hope it will be helpful for you.
Q. What are three reasons to avoid passive?
2. In SEO writing, crawlers also prefer active voice & simple sentences to understand easily.
3. Maximum internet users’ reading ability is like a 6-8 standard student.
Q. How do you identify passive voice?
Here’s the passive voice structure – Subject + Be + V3 (past participle)