Passive voice sentences in business writing do not state the actor or state the actor after the action. Active voice sentences state the actor before the action. For each sentence, look for an action that has no actor. “Mistakes were made” has no actor. It is in passive voice. “The committee made mistakes” has an actor: the committee. It is in active voice.
Also, if the sentence has the actor after the action, as in “mistakes were made by the committee,” it is still in passive voice. The reason is that active voice has the actor before the action. In your business writing, try to use active voice sentences most of the time.
1. Which of the following is (are) in active voice.
a) After all of the effort, we couldn’t eliminate the error.
b) The managers met with all of them.
c) Maureen will pick up Arny on her way back from the meeting.
d) The plans were drawn up by the committee.
e) The data will be made available on Tuesday.
2. Which of the following is (are) in active voice?
a) We found errors and corrected them.
b) The accountant found errors and corrected them.
c) The accountant found errors, but they were corrected.
d) We found errors, but the accountant corrected them.
e) Errors were found, but the accountant corrected them.
3. Which of the following is (are) in active voice?
a) The company’s attorney declined to comment.
b) The cake wasn’t delivered to the right address.
c) As we expected, the host came late.
d) A “no comment” response was made by the attorney.
e) The pipefitter didn’t make the casing tight enough.
4. Which of the following is (are) in active voice?
a) In spite of our best efforts, the attendees didn’t like the convention.
b) Without clear direction, much time was wasted trying to decide what to do.
c) The chairman adjourned the meeting early.
d) Our company was bought out by Acme Industries, Inc.
e) These plans were drawn up months ago.
5. What must you do to make sentences active voice?
a) Use strong verbs.
b) State the actor.
c) Put the actor before the verb.
d) Put the actor after “by,” as in “by the manager.”
e) State the action close to the beginning.
6. Which of the following is (are) in active voice:
a) Jim gave us the wrong phone number.
b) You should make this marketing effort successful.
c) Frank brought the product sample that was left for us to examine.
d) The figures that we were given weren’t accurate.
e) The trainees must learn to be patient.
7. Which of the following is (are) in active voice?
a) The training was almost cancelled by management.
b) Whatever the reason, these hinges weren’t manufactured to specifications.
c) I could never understand why the company always delivered the products late.
d) The team helped make the project successful.
e) This trainee was certified as competent by the trainer, but she didn’t learn the skills.
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