In agriculture, the impartial care for both the production of edible biomass and sustainability is known as Agroecology.

When I write, I do this all the time and it sounds both repetitive and informal. Any help? Another example is "is described as".

  • . . . . is referred to as . . . . . Which can be active : 'In agriculture, we refer to the impartial care etc etc . . . as Agroecology.' Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 5 at 1:16
  • 1
    As implied by the title here, the easy answer is simply not to use the passive form. Agroecology [in agriculture] is the impartial care for both the production of edible biomass and sustainability. Not sure why the reader needs to be told that this term specifically applies to agriculture contexts, though - that looks pretty obvious without explicitly stating it. Feb 5 at 12:34
  • 3
    And the easy question is Why not use the passive? That's what it's for. When you don't want to specify an agent because it's unknown and irrelevant, passive is your friend. Yes, is known as is repetitive, but repetition is the basis of parallel constructions. Readers don't mind repetitions (read Aristotle sometime if you want to see what text with no repetition is like - if you didn't get it the first time, too bad), and they do like predictability, especially in text that's likely to be boring. Feb 5 at 19:28
  • 1
    I'll agree with @John Lawler; the active voice constructions here are all worse, so unless you have an English teacher who hates the passive, leave it passive. Feb 5 at 23:02

2 Answers 2


You might turn it around:
"Agroecology is the production of edible biomass while supporting sustainability."

By starting with the subject, you don't need to resort to "is known as".

The phrase "in agriculture" may not be necessary.

I don't know what you mean by "impartial" in the sentence.


Most of the time, you can't — although there are a number of alternatives to use like is called.

To activise a passive-voice sentence you need to introduce a subject to replace the [perhaps unstated] agent:

  • x is called y [by z];
  • z calls y x.

That leads to a sentence which might sound condescending:

In agriculture, we call the impartial care for both the production of edible biomass and sustainability Agroecology.

Otherwise, simply define the term. I've moved "in agriculture" here to what is probably the least awkward place:

Agroecology is the impartial care for both the agricultural production of edible biomass and sustainability.

  • Is called is also a passive. Does that matter? Feb 5 at 19:24
  • 1
    In most cases, you can't avoid using the passive voice, so ways of varying the words used are useful. If you must avoid passives, then alternatives are available but they are usually more awkward.
    – Andrew Leach
    Feb 6 at 6:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.