Are you looking for a reliable passive voice checker?
That’s an excellent idea. You should always avoid using the passive voice in writing as much as you can.
But sometimes it isn’t easy to spot when you are doing a quick proofread of your text.
A much easier, and more accurate way to locate a passive sentence or passive construction is to use an online checker.
There are many free online tools you can use to help you. The bonus is that many of them will help you find other grammar errors and spelling mistakes as well.
The best tools will give you options or examples to change a phrase written in the passive voice to the active voice.
But before I get to my list of useful tools, it worth understanding the difference between active and passive voice.
What is the passive voice?
It is when the subject of the sentence is not performing the action.
The structure and the form of the verbs are to be plus the past participle. It can also use the verbs to have and to get in the causative form.
With passive voice sentences, we don’t know who is performing the action unless we add an operator.
For example, in the passive voice, the subject is usually a thing and not a person.
This house was built in 1970.
We don’t know who built the house because the house receives the action of the verb.
This house was built in 1970 by John.
Now we know who built the house because John is the operator. But this house, the sentence subject, is acted upon by the passive verb.
But if we change to the active voice, the subject is a person, and the sentence is much easier to understand.
John built this house in 1970.
Now it is clear who built the house.
In the English language, writing active sentences is always the best option. You should use the active form in articles, fiction, blog posts and any form of messaging, email or general correspondence.
However, in business and scientific writing, the passive is used a little more frequently.
It is because there may be a need not to say who did something or to apportion blame. A prepositional phrase is often used to introduce a topic.
In reply to your complaint, your delivery was delayed due to unforeseen circumstance.
In the causative form, which is sometimes called the have or get something done form, again we don’t know who performs the action.
I really need to have my car serviced.
Joe has to get his hair cut before his interview.
You should have your blood pressure checked.
Are you going to get your computer repaired?
In the examples above, we don’t know who is performing the action.
To re-write these sentences in the active form, we need to include a subject that is performing the action.
I really need to have the garage service my car.
Joe has to get the barber to cut his hair before his interview.
You should have your doctor check your blood pressure.
Are you going to get Apple to repair your computer?
You can read much more in our in-depth article on passive and causative structures and how to avoid using them.
The best free tools to find passive sentences
It is no surprise that Grammarly is my number one choice.
That is because I use it every day, day in and day out.
For me, it is always on, so it is only a matter of one click, and I can find and re-write any passive sentences.
Here is a screengrab of my Grammarly editor for this post as I was writing it in WordPress.
You can see the passive structures are highlighted for you. On the right, there is an explanation and examples of how to change the voice.
It makes it easy for me to find any passive forms and quickly change any sentences to active voice.
You can read our full Grammarly review for more details.
I use it mostly for checking long-form writing. But it is an excellent tool for finding and correcting passive structures.
As you can see from the image above, ProwritingAid gives you helpful clues about how to fix your sentences.
The suggestions are based on your sentence, so it is a very quick and easy fix for you. Just click the one you prefer to automatically change your sentence, or you can edit your sentence using a different subject.
3. Ginger Grammar
Ginger grammar is super quick and easy to use as a free Chrome extension.
For bloggers, this is a great free tool to have because it will work in unison with whatever blog editor you use on your site.
Ginger will clearly highlight and underline any passive forms for you have in your text. Then you can re-write them in the active form.
4. Hemingway App
The Hemingway App is very well known as a great passive finder.
This is true. It is super fast and it gives you a very clear green highlight for every passive structure it finds in your writing.
But then it is up to you to change your sentences. The Hemingway Editor doesn’t give you any examples or hints to help you re-phrase your sentences in the active construction.
All of the free grammar tools I have mentioned above will do a great job for you in helping you write better and more accurately.
The will find your passive structures very fast, and then you can get to work on fixing them.
No matter which one you choose, you will be making a good choice.
But I suppose Grammarly and ProWritingAid stand out for me because they are the only two that give you a little more help in re-writing your sentences.
Related reading: The 13 Best Free Grammar Check And Grammar Corrector Apps