Sometimes you NEED Passive Voice

Last week I warned you against the dangers of passive voice (“The suspect was patted down”). Today I’m going to give you a professional tip. There’s one situation when passive voice is useful: when something happened – and you don’t know who did it.

The crime scene was compromised. PASSIVE VOICE (effective: You don’t know who compromised it)

The house was entered through the unlocked back door. PASSIVE VOICE (effective: You don’t know who entered)

Bottom line: When you know who did what, use active voice. Or – to restate the handy rule I gave you last week – start every sentence in your reports with a person, place, or thing UNLESS you don’t know who did the action.

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