Be Passive The Writing Must Not

[found on; by Judy Cullins]

“Stop passive sentence construction.

When you write in passive voice, your writing slides along into long sentences that slow your readers down, even bore them.

Before you put your final stamp of approval on your writing, circle all the “is,” “was” and other passive verbs like: begin, start to, seems, appears, have, and could. Use your grammar check to count your passives. Aim for 2-4% only.

Instead of, ”Make sure that your name is included on all your household accounts and investments.” Passive culprits include “Make” and “is included.” Create more clarity with this revision,” Include your name on all household accounts and investments to keep your own credit alive after your divorce.”

For more tips on writing from Judy Cullins, click here.

[found on]

11 Composition Principles

[found on]

“E. B. White holds the rare distinction of being admired both by adults, for such breathtaking essays as “Here is New York” and “Once More to the Lake,” and by children, for such wondrous stories as “Charlotte’s Web” and “Trumpet of the Swan.” White is also revered by writers for bringing us The Elements of Style, a classic on the art of writing good prose, in any form. White actually just tweaked and arranged publication of the book, which was originally a privately printed text by one of his professors, William Strunk Jr.

Though a slender book, it contains such priceless wisdom as these 11 Elementary Principles of Composition:

[From The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White]

    1. Choose a suitable design and stick to it.
    2. Make the paragraph the unit of composition.
    3. Use the active voice.
    4. Put statements in positive form.
    5. Use definite, specific, concrete language.
    6. Omit needless words.
    7. Avoid a succession of loose sentences.
    8. Express coordinate ideas in similar form.
    9. Keep related words together.
    10. In summaries, keep to one tense.
    11. Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end.”
[found on]

Active / Passive Voice

[found on]

What is active/passive voice?

“To know whether you are writing in the active or passive voice, identify the subject of the sentence and decide whether the subject is doing the action or being acted upon.

  • Passive Voice: the subject is the receiver of the action.
    The tax return (subject) was completed (action) before the April 15 deadline by Mr. Doe.
  • Active Voice: the subject does an action to an object.
    Mr. Doe (subject) completed (action) the tax return (object) before the April 15 deadline.

When we write in the passive voice, we add some form of the helping verb “to be” (am, is, are, was, were, being, or been) to an otherwise strong verb that really did not need help.

  • Passive: Additional information (subject) can be obtained (action) by employees from our website.
  • Active: Employees (subject) can obtain (action) additional information (object) from our website.”
[found on]