Passive Voice


I CAN NOT seem to fix this sentence for passive voice. Please help.

See example:

If any one of the above motor skills is impaired; then the elderly driver's license should be taken by law.
asked Oct 24 '13 at 18:48 Kerri Heffernan New member

3 answers


In this sentence the word 'one' serves no useful purpose. Presumably, a person's licence would be taken away if two or more skills were impaired.  Also, why should this apply only to an elderly driver?  It doeesn't make much sense without further context.  Without further information, I'd suggest this:  


If any of a driver's motor skills are impaired, their driver's license (AM. Eng.) driving licence (Br. Eng.) should, by law, be taken away.  


N.B. When "any" means one or more, we use a plural verb.   

link comment answered Oct 25 '13 at 01:32 Paul Henderson Contributor

I agree with Paul's suggestions.  I assume you are making an argument about testing the elderly to see if they should still be driving - a hot topic for many people.  He didn't answer your question about passive voice, though. 


Passive voice is not grammatically incorrect.  Grammarly's software flags it because many instructors require writing in active voice.  Active voice is more interesting to read, but passive voice is sometimes the better choice.  The choice is yours.


To make a sentence active, you need a subject that is doing the action.  In your case, a driver's license cannot perform any action.  Who takes away the license?  The government.  To make the sentence active, you need to put the government in the sentence as the subject. 


For more examples and explanations about passive and active voice, use the search field at the top of the page.  This is the most frequent question here, and you will find scores of answers.

link comment answered Oct 25 '13 at 12:28 Patty T Grammarly Fellow

Has the passive voice been condemned?


link answered Oct 25 '13 at 12:40 Paul Henderson Contributor

Apparently! When I went back to grad school a few years ago, I was faced with this "rule". Some of the instructors were freakishly rigid. Many of the users that post here clearly don't understand that a suggestion by Grammarly's software to check for a possible issue doesn't mean it is definitely wrong. The most frequent is passive voice. Another common one is "check for incomplete comparison." They drive themselves crazy trying to fix something that isn't wrong.

Patty TOct 25 '13 at 12:55

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