Peer to Peer Magazine

Spring 2015

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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PEER TO PEER: THE QUARTERLY MAGA ZINE OF ILTA 72 You likely have a vague memory of Mrs. Newcomb's disparaging remarks about that dastardly "passive voice" in your freshman English class. In this column, Gary focuses on the bane of Mrs. Newcomb and anyone who values strong, clear writing. His humorous approach will lighten the load as you're reminded to recognize and remove the passive voice from your writing. If you have questions regarding grammar, usage, style or any component of writing, visit my blog at and post a comment. Gary and I will respond, and we'll build a nice collection of tidbits over time. Randi Mayes Gary Kinder (WARNING: This column contains language of a dull nature and may cause drowsiness. Do not read it while fencing, SCUBA diving, ice skating, riding a bull or operating a blender.) Since our last column appeared in the winter issue of Peer to Peer, hundreds of you have written to ask us for more ways we can help you be dull and boring. After thinking for a long while, we finally hit on the perfect accompaniment to writing with those nominalizations we talked about last time. Hint: It's not removing tattoos. (Although we know a guy who offers a great deal on piercing earlobes with a railroad spike. He's missed only twice that we know of. Full disclosure: we receive a small cut.) Back to our word on words! We're talking about passive voice. ANOTHER WARNING: Exciting people write in the active voice because it is direct, vigorous and clear. To avoid writing in the active voice, you must be able to recognize it: To write in the passive voice, we flip the active voice and write the sentence backward! Yes, backward! With the passive voice, we can make a sentence so dull, boring and confusing, our readers long for the excitement of pantomiming Gregorian chants. Which is right where we want them: paying no attention to what we have written. If we're really good, we can put them to sleep. The passive voice is perfect for keeping our writing and therefore ourselves dull and boring. And, bonus, writing in the passive voice often allows us to cram unnecessary words into our sentences. Backward and unnecessary! You can't beat that. To write in the passive voice, put the object first and the actor — if there is one — at the end, and… actor act object I hit the ball

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