It has again been decided that April 27th will be passive voice day. Fun will be had by everybody as the passive voice is used for tweets, blogs, and casual conversation. The active voice will be frowned upon. The hashtag #passivevoiceday should be used when passive voice is used in social media, so the fun can be shared by all.

Why is this being done? Simple. It’s considered fun. No point is being made. It’s just enjoyed when things are taken to an absurd extreme.

It is hoped we will be joined by you, and that the word will be spread to everybody known.

37 Responses to “Passive Voice Day 2012”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    This day raises the challenge level significantly for E-Prime users, though it remains possible.

    (As opposed to: E-Prime users find this challenging, but possible.)

    • martin Says:

      I hope you’re aware that there isn’t a single example of the passive voice in your response. “This raises the challenge” is indeed active voice.

    • Bloix Says:

      “This day raises the possibility” is in the active voice. You might want to visit language log to learn the difference.

  2. This may not be know by you, but this post was featured on Language Log:

  3. s/know by/known by

  4. Scott Says:

    “… April 27th will be [proclaimed] passive voice day …”?

  5. djw Says:

    Should that be “April 27th will be recognized/observed as passive voice day”? Is “will be” passive all by its lonesome?

  6. Jerry Friedman Says:

    Geoff Pullum praised your grammatical knowledge at .

  7. Addison Says:

    The author of the above comment seems to have gotten confused. “This day raises the challenge level…” and “…it remains possible.” both exemplify active voice. Stuffy, yes. Passive, no. The only way the passive in E’ can get used is if the colloquial substitution of “to get” for “to be” gets resorted to. Which would get objected to by many people.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Literal passive voice gets used rarely in E-Prime by nature (only when sentences get literally translated via substitution of another word for “to be”). Nonetheless, passive-feeling sentences remain common in simplistic usage, and awkwardness increases greatly with the use of such sentences. Subjects commonly appear in such sentences near the middle or end, and objects near the beginning. Indirection gets applied to verbs, and nounification of verbs occurs frequently. Painful reading ensues.

      (Self-describing example, intentionally bad.)

  8. J. Goard Says:

    Although OP has been greatly lauded by Language Log, continuing ignorance about the definition of “passive” was immediatedly displayed in the comments. Sadly, no actual passive clauses were used by the first commenter (if “as opposed to” is excepted).

  9. Jeff Carney Says:

    My colleagues will be alerted!

  10. Amy R. Says:

    No passive voice has been provided by the first comment by Anonymous. “This day” is the subject, “raises the challenge level” is the predicate, and “for E-Prime users” just adds additional info.

    As has been noted by Language Log bloggers, “passive voice” is too often used to refer to a sentence that obscures agency but is actually in the active voice. “Shots were fired” and “mistakes were made” are in passive voice AND refuse to tell you who did something. “Shots rang out” and “mistakes arose” are active and agentless.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Readers of these comments, particularly language pedants, would get value out of reading . Clearer English gets written not just when passive voice gets eliminated, but also when passive, agentless sentences get minimized. Thus, those that get enjoyment out of grammatical constructs getting used universally that would preferably get eliminated, would get value out of slightly broader interpretations of “passive” which can get abused on this day. Nonetheless, those getting annoyed by non-literal interpretations of “passive” may get joy from this paragraph, through which the point has hopefully gotten thoroughly proven. (And in the last sentence, the use of split infinitives in E-Prime has likewise gotten demonstrated.)

      • LDavidH Says:

        Well, Anonymous, the difference between “passive voice” and “Passive, agentless sentences” (as they are labelled by you) must be maintained, especially as no fault is necessarily to be found in the use of the passive voice. Neither clarity nor content is sacrificed in the passive, and beautiful sentences can be constructed this way, too!

      • dan Says:

        I’m lost. You mix a bunch of passives like “get written” and “get eliminated” with non-passive uses of the word “get” like “get value” and “get enjoyment.” The only linguistic through line to your comment is the repeated use of the word “get.”

        It also doesn’t adhere to a broader definition of “passive” either. “Readers of these comments, particularly language pedants, would get value out of…” isn’t agentless at all.

      • CIngram Says:

        ‘Get’ is used repeatedly in a manner by which my ear is offended, and no split infinitive is contained in the final sentence.

      • Richard Hershberger Says:

        OK, the page in that link makes a distinction (oops! I meant “A distinction is made on that page…”) between the “passive voice” and some vaguely defined “passive sentence.” Shawnm’s post explicitly discusses the passive voice, making no mention of any “passive sentence.” So what relevance do your “passive sentences” have to this discussion? What you dismiss as the work of pedants is what I call understanding what is being discussed.

    • Jeff Carney Says:

      You don’t have to think e-prime is a good idea (I do not) but folks might want to at least look it up before accusing Anonymous of not getting the passive.

  11. Great laughs were had (by me) when this post was stumbled upon (again by me)!

  12. Jill St. Passive Says:

    I will be sending copies of this email to all my passive-language friends. We will discuss the topic and maybe we will find something about the content that might be worth participating in on this date. We will see.

    • thebasement Says:

      Three sentences, all in the active voice, were written by Jill St. Passive.

  13. […] Tomorrow’s the big day. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Categories Active & passive voice, Class, Grammar […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  14. Angiportus Says:

    You are thanked. Many smart-mouth types will be delighted to have this sort of opportunity handed to them, and their friends will be bemused until the occasion is disclosed…

  15. LingEducator Says:

    It is believed by many that students are not helped by grammar instruction, but style advice is often ignored when it is presented without a framework for interpretation. Students are confused when only prescriptive rules are taught, because they haven’t been given any instruction on grammar as a system. Without such a framework, even the useful prescriptive rules are blindly and haphazardly followed, students are frustrated, and poor writing is produced.

    When grammar knowledge is systematically presented, students’ metalinguistic knowledge is raised. Subsequently, their writing is often improved, since the style advice can then be processed.

    Your contribution this issue is greatly appreciated. Students shouldn’t be made to feel inferior for something that has never been properly taught.

  16. […] Voice Day” was first mentioned, probably first conceived, by Shaun McCance on his blog. The day may have been observed before, but I certainly hadn’t been informed. And this year […]

  17. […] In honor of National Passive Voice Day: […]

  18. […] has been declared that today is Passive Voice Day. These simple joys aren’t being missed. Indeed, fun is being […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  19. Daniel Barkalow Says:

    My curiosity was piqued by this question: May unaccusative constructions be used today? That is, can the agent position be removed not by morphology, but by its own optionality? I would also be pleased if some guidance could be given to us on the use of the dative alternation. I am also disturbed by experiencer verbs in this context.

  20. Paul Says:

    This celebratory video on the passive voice is my contribution!

  21. Luis Says:

    Great idea! Let passive voice be restored its dignity!

  22. Ray Thackeray Says:

    I have decided that this passive voice/active voice drivel is a load of bollocks.

  23. Fred Says:

    I am to be corrected if wrong is what I am.
    Terribly challenging is what this is.
    Does speaking like Yoda sound like what I am doing?

  24. […] It has been decided that today is Passive Voice Day. […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  25. Andrew Greene Says:

    Sadness is felt by me, which is due to the fact that my discovery of this page was not made until today.

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