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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

July 19, 2017

Finding and Fixing Passive Verbs: Test Yourself

Yesterday I updated a collection of articles I had written years ago. I made the examples fresher, changing dates like 2009 to 2017 and updating acronyms like TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program), which no one thinks about anymore. 

I also did a grammar and spelling check to make sure I had not introduced any errors through my updating. What a surprise! I realized that I had overlooked some passive verbs when I first published the pieces. 

All of the numbered examples below include passive verbs I had missed. Can you find and fix them? It was easy for me because Microsoft flagged the passive verbs, and I understood the context. Give it a try, making any necessary changes. Then compare your revisions with mine. 

Note: Below in red I've included a reminder and some examples of passive verbs in case you need a refresher on passives before editing my examples. 

Reminder: A passive verb is a verb phrase that does not indicate who is doing the action. We avoid most passives because they are often wordy, indirect, and unclear. Sometimes we eliminate them simply because they are wordy. 

Passive: Your travel expenses have been approved by your director. 
Revision: Your director approved your travel expenses.

Passive: Costs should be included in the proposal.
Revision: The proposal should include costs. 

Passive: The article must be finished by Friday. 
Revision: The article is due on Friday. 

Passive: Her comments are written in red.
Revision: Her comments are in red. 

Passive: Here are the photos that were taken
Revision: Here are the photos. 

 

Examples to Revise

Note: If it's hard to find the passive verbs, check my list of them, which appears below the 15 items.  

1. If you have included your readers' first names in the body of the message, make sure they are spelled correctly. 

2. It is easier for everyone to retrieve information when content is rendered in short chunks.

3. I was disappointed not to be called back for a second interview. 

4. If you are reading the color version of this article, you notice that the headings are rendered in red. 

5. Good business is built on solid analysis. But most business documents must focus on action and implementation. 

6. It is easy to write about what interests you, but that information must be tied to your readers' interests.

7. After all, if the presentation is not targeted to your audience, why should they bother to listen? 

8. I suggest Annette Simmons's The Story Factor: What Story Can do That Facts Can't. It is filled with examples, explanations, and heart. 

9. Below are the words that were used incorrectly. 

10. The word amount is used correctly for things that are not countable, as in "amount of pain" or "amount of publicity." 

11. We were surprised by the clients' responses. 

12. Before you begin to worry about whether web must be capitalized, stop! 

13. Attending business meetings, networking, volunteering, helping other people, and keeping in touch by phone are good ways to become known as a reliable, talented person looking for new opportunities.

14. You cannot know the time of day your email will be read. 

15. An online resource that covers differences in spelling between British, Canadian, and U.S. English is listed on page 67. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before you review my revisions, see whether we agree on which verbs are passive. 

1. are spelled

2. is rendered

3. be called

4. are rendered

5. is built 

6. must be tied 

7. is not targeted 

8. is filled 

9. were used 

10. is used 

11. were surprised 

12. must be capitalized

13. become known 

14. will be read

15. is listed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Revisions 

Here's how I eliminated the passives. Your revisions may be different. 

1. If you have included your readers' first names in the body of the message, make sure to spell them correctly

2. It is easier for everyone to retrieve information when content appears in short chunks.

3. I was disappointed not to get a callback for a second interview. 

4. If you are reading the color version of this article, you notice that the headings are red

5. Business relies on solid analysis. But most business documents must focus on action and implementation. 

6. It is easy to write about what interests you, but you must tie that information to your readers' interests.

7. After all, if the presentation doesn't target your audience, why should they bother to listen? 

8. I suggest The Story Factor: What Story Can Do That Facts Can’t, which author Annette Simmons has filled with examples, explanations, and heart.

9. Below are the incorrect words. 

10. The word amount is correct for things that are not countable, as in "amount of pain" or "amount of publicity." 

11. The clients' responses surprised us. 

12. Before you begin to worry about whether to capitalize web, stop! 

13. Attending business meetings, networking, volunteering, helping other people, and keeping in touch by phone are good ways to stand out as a reliable, talented person looking for new opportunities.

14. You cannot know the time of day people will read your email

15. An online resource that covers differences in spelling between British, Canadian, and U.S. English appears on page 67. 

 

How did you do? Are your changes similar to mine? 

If you want more on passives, check out my other blog posts on the topic:

How Fast Can You Change Passive Verbs? 

Everything You Need to Know About Passive Verbs

Procedures: No Place for Passive Verbs

Passive Verbs in a Father's Day Card

Make Microsoft Find Passives

 

Lynn
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