I have a sentence like this.

I applied this method to the problem.

I want "the problem" to be the subject of the sentence.

If "this method" were the subject, this might be very easy.

This method was applied to the problem.


The problem was applied this method to.

this sentence looks a bit awkward. Is the last sentence OK?

  • 2
    No, that last is not correct. This looks like a homework assignment...? – keshlam Jun 20 '14 at 4:20
  • @keshlam No. Can I make "the problem" be the subject from the specific sentence above? Changing the verb does not matter. – Naetmul Jun 20 '14 at 4:23
  • 2
    The problem was tackled by this method. The problem was amenable to this method. The problem was solved/solvable by this method. – gardenhead Jun 20 '14 at 4:32
  • 3
    It's a whole lot more than awkward. It's downright ungrammatical. There's only so much that can be done with Passive. Find a different predicate that doesn't box you into a syntactic corner, e.g, This problem turned out to be amenable to method X. – John Lawler Jun 20 '14 at 5:04
  • 3
    The problem had this method applied to it. It's grammatical, but still sounds awkward. – Barmar Jun 20 '14 at 23:18

If I were condemned by the Passive Voice Inquisition to forfeit one of my toes each time I wrote a sentence in active voice, I might attempt a workaround like this:

The problem was addressed through application of this method.

But your original wording—"I applied this method to the problem"—is superior to that formulation in just about every possible way (except resulting toe count).


Try writing your sentence this way:

The problem was resolved by applying the following method. (or the aforementioned method.)

Change your verb to one more amenable to passive voice. "Was resolved" works for passive mode, and apply changes to the gerund form: applying, which is also passive when used this way. You get problem as your subject, and apply in passive form, though not as the verb directly applied to the subject. This is an acceptable passive voice form, though it is wordy.

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