Eradicating Passive Voice

Dear Sexy Grammarian,

Three men robbed the biggest jewelry store.

The biggest jewelry store was robbed by three men.

I had a great question from one of my students when we were talking about passive and active voice today. She asked, if the biggest jewelery store was robbed by three people and I wanted to put the emphasis on the jewelry store because it’s so big, how do I put the jewelry store first without it being passive? I didn’t know what to say.  Just wanted to pick your brain whenever you get a chance.  Thanks so much 🙂

Michelle

Dear Michelle,

Wanting to emphasize the object of an action is the very best reason to use passive voice. So this is a good example of acceptable use of passive voice. Still, there’s a way to get rid of the passive and keep the emphasis on the jewelry store if that’s what you want.

What you need is a new verb. The jewelry store was robbed, yes, but that’s its passive action. What is its active action? It lost, forfeited, and sacrificed, didn’t it? So, I would add something like this to your set of examples:

Three men robbed the biggest jewelry store.

The biggest jewelry store was robbed by three men.

The biggest jewelry store lost its inventory to three robbers.

Fondly,

Kristy

The Sexy G

Frequently, a client or online fan sends me a grammar question, and I always post answers here on the blog.  If you have a question, don’t hesitate to write to me. Looking for more attention? Get affordable, project-focused coaching in person or via Skype or email.

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  1. Well played, Sexy G, well played! So elegantly and simply done!

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