Divorcing the Passive Voice

Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.


While my own romantic ramblings have done little to either confirm or deny the existence of love at first sight, my affair with the passive voice began long before we even met. We did not have our first formal introduction until my freshman year of high school, and until that time my prose ran freely and passively, filling pages with tangled clauses and verbs lacking volition.

I spent the majority of my middle school career straining through pages in this manner, unabashedly robbing my subjects of action, or sometimes simply assassinating them altogether. Educated in a public school until ninth grade wherein the primary object of English class was merely to construct a sentence consisting of a subject and predicate – preferably in that order – my ability to coherently veer from this norm in the form of the passive voice was actually a source of praise. While subjects languished in the confusion of inactivity and orphaned verbs wavered in uncertainty, my tyrannical grip on the passive voice continued unchecked.

Upon entering prep school, I inherently believed that the passive voice was my own personal – not to mention ingenious – stylistic creation. With my first graded paper, I received a number of red circled clauses along...

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