Writing Tip: Avoid Passive Voice--Usually

Writing Tip: Avoid Passive Voice--Usually

When I was a sophomore in high school, I had a fantastic English teacher. Mrs. Shirley was a former basketball player with a voice that hinted at Julia Child’s in the very best of ways. She simultaneously held her students to a high standard and lavished us with kindness.

She also had some quirky requirements for term papers. Most formidably, we weren’t allowed to use any form of the verb “to be.” “Am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been” were all off limits.

As challenging as this rule was at first, it taught me to look for and use a wider variety of words.

It also helped me break out of my passive voice habit.

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