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November 13, 1967

The Passive Voice

Author Affiliations

Valhalla, NY

JAMA. 1967;202(7):666. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130200152048

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To the Editor:—  Many writers deliberately use the passive voice (201:616, 1967) to avoid responsibility. This represents a transfer of the committee approach into the verbal area. Consider this example: "A careful manual exploration of the abdominal viscera was performed and revealed no significant pathology." Translated into the active voice this becomes something like: "I ran my hands through the guts and found nothing." Now the surgeon clearly shoulders the entire load!