This question already has an answer here:

I am writing technical documents (user requirements, user guides etc) often and MS Word and Grammarly often give me an error message "Passive voice misuse".

For example:

  • Function X is shown in this video.
  • It can be done by clicking this button.
  • This button can be used.
  • If more details are needed, they can be found in Annex A.

for all examples above Grammarly gives "Passive Voice Misuse". The same for MS Word. My question is

Are these examples completely fine or they can be rewritten in a better way from the native language speaker point of view?

As I understand Grammarly and etc is not a good reference here. I am asking just about my specific examples.

Please do not mark it as duplicated with this question. There are some similarities, but my question is more generic, but the other is very specific and related to only one example. and that question is not answered.

UPDATE 1 after some reading, I can rewrite my examples like this

  • This video shows Function X.
  • To do it click this button.
  • Use this button.
  • Annex A contains more details if needed.

Is it really better from native English speakers?

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, herisson, tchrist Aug 12 '18 at 18:06

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • Answers to the following question on use of the passive voice in academic writing may be what you are looking for: english.stackexchange.com/questions/408864/… – Shoe Aug 12 '18 at 11:27
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  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about the limitations of automated style checkers, not the actual principles of English grammar. – FumbleFingers Aug 12 '18 at 11:38
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    They're all fine. Stop thinking of Grammarly as a teaching aid. As regards matters of style, it's just a "not-very-accurate" tool to highlight constructions where you might want to verify for yourself that you didn't make a mistake. But if you don't have enough confidence to trust your own opinions over those of such a crude tool, you should probably just turn the style checking features off. – FumbleFingers Aug 12 '18 at 11:53
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    Every single time a piece of software tells you that you are misusing the passive voice, a bug has just been found by you. We cannot help you with buggy software until and unless you follow our advice to just stop using it. – tchrist Aug 12 '18 at 18:02

There is nothing wrong with passive voice, and at times it can be very useful. It is often much easier to understand technical writing if you start sentences with old information or concepts, and bring new information in at the end. Doing this makes the writing flow naturally from one sentence to the next. Passive voice is an important tool that can be used to do this. For example, if you have been talking about "Function X", then Function X is shown in this video is a better word order than this video shows Function X. And if you've been previously talking about the button, this button can be used is a better word order.

This, along with other techniques for making scientific writing comprehensible, is explained in much greater detail in the article The Science of Scientific Writing, by Gopen and Swan.

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