Please show me how to eliminate passive voice in these sentences: 1) Our action is based on the assumption that the competition will be taken by surprise.  2) It is believed by the typical...

Please show me how to eliminate passive voice in these sentences:

1) Our action is based on the assumption that the competition will be taken by surprise.

 2) It is believed by the typical union member that his or her welfare is not considered to be important by management.

 3) You were directed by your supervisor to complete this assignment by noon.

 4) It is believed by the writer that this company policy is wrong.

Asked on by dragones

2 Answers | Add Yours

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

To eliminate the passive voice in any given sentence, you need to identify which verbs are passive and then you need to change them and make them active.  When you are using the passive voice, the subject of your sentence does not act.  Instead, it receives actions done by someone else.  When you are using the active voice, the subject of the sentence is the one that is acting.  Let us see how this applies to each of your sentences:

1) Our action is based on the assumption that the competition will be taken by surprise.

We have examples of the passive voice here.  They are “is based on” and “will be taken.”  In both cases, the subject (our action and the competition) is not actually doing anything.  We need to change the sentence to make sure that we have subjects who are actually acting.  The sentence could read “We will base our action on the assumption that we will take the competition by surprise.” In this sentence, the subject (we) is actually doing both of the verbs, which means that the sentence is in the active voice.

 2) It is believed by the typical union member that his or her welfare is not considered to be important by management.

Here, we need to remove “it is believed” and “is not considered.”  We know who is doing these actions, but we need to rearrange the sentences and change the verbs so the sentence will be in the active voice.  The sentence could read “The typical union member believes that the management does not consider his or her welfare to be important.”   We have not really changed the meaning of the sentence at all, but it is now in the active voice.

 3) You were directed by your supervisor to complete this assignment by noon.

The only example of the passive voice in this sentence is “were directed.”  “You” are the subject, but “you” are not doing the action.  Instead, “you” are receiving the action.  We need to change the sentence to emphasize the actor.  The sentence could read “Your supervisor directed you to complete this assignment by noon.

 4) It is believed by the writer that this company policy is wrong.

The example of the passive voice in this sentence is “it is believed.”  We need to change the sentence to emphasize the subject and to make the verb active.  The sentence could read “The writer believes that this company policy is wrong.

All of these sentences are now in the active voice.

Sources:
billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

It is interesting to play with sentences like those in your question. I believe that one or two of them, if not all of them, could be made even more effective by eliminating words as well as by putting them in the active voice. For example, instead of saying "It is believed by this writer that this company policy is wrong," or alternatively, "The writer believes that this company policy is wrong," why not come right out and say, "This company policy is wrong"? The words "The writer believes that" only weaken the contention that the company policy is wrong, making it seem as if the writer is saying, in effect, "That's just my opinion, though. I could be wrong myself." The main purpose of using the active rather than the passive voice is to avoid sounding passive and weak. So why not be even more active? If you're going to get in trouble for saying that the writer believes the policy is wrong, you can't get in any more trouble by saying the policy is wrong.

The same might be said of the sentence which has been placed in the active voice as “We will base our action on the assumption that we will take the competition by surprise.” Why not just say, "If we do it we can take the competition by surprise"?

We’ve answered 318,960 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question