You might be a victim of the passive voice epidemic if you’ve seen (or even written) one of the following sentences and didn’t think anything of it:
“Following his review, the edits will be provided by John Doe.”
“It was determined by my wife and I that the money should be used for something else.”
We speak in subject-verb, so why are we sometimes writing in the reverse?
“What did you do last weekend?” “I watched a movie and then ate dinner,” is a normal response. Do you know what’s not normal? This response: “A movie was watched by me and then dinner was eaten.”
Which got me thinking: What if the screenwriters of all our favorite classics were also bit by the passive voice bug?
To suggest how ridiculous we sound when we use the passive voice, here are fifteen of AFI’s Top 100 quotes, re-written in the passive voice:
- “Frankly, my dear, a damn is not given by me.” – Gone With The Wind
- “An offer that he can’t refuse will be made by me.” – The Godfather
- “Go ahead, my day is to be made” – Sudden Impact
- “Is talkin’ to me being done by you?” – Taxi Driver
- “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, mine is walked into by her.” – Casablanca
- “The money is to be shown to me!” – Jerry Maguire
- “The truth can’t be handled by you!” – A Few Good Men
- “Banks are robbed by us.” – Bonnie and Clyde
- “Houston, a problem is had by us.” – Apollo 13
- “A ‘hello’ will be said to my little friend!” – Scarface
- “The kindness of strangers has always been depended on by me.” – A Streetcar Named Desire
- “The pod bay doors are to be opened by HAL, please.” – 2001: A Space Odyssey
- “Baby is not put in a corner by nobody.” – Dirty Dancing
- “Striker: Surely, serious can’t be by you. Rumack: Serious is by me… and Shirley is not to be called by you.” – Airplane!
- “On me, a test was once tried by a census taker. His liver was eaten by me with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” – The Silence of the Lambs
Have others to submit? Shoot me an e-mail.