I use Grammarly and it keeps telling me that I'm misusing passive voice regarding this sentence:

Which source materials should be avoided?

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    I can't see any problem; and when I put the sentence into Grammarly, it gave me a pat on the back and reported no errors. Oct 8, 2019 at 14:20
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    @RonaldSole I also had another sentence but instead of source materials it was dictionaries. How about that? Oct 8, 2019 at 14:22
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    I don't see anything wrong with this, even if "source materials" is replaced with "dictionaries." Writing guides often recommend using the active instead of passive voice whenever possible, but that is stylistic advice, not a grammatical rule. The active form would be "Which source materials should one avoid?"
    – TypeIA
    Oct 8, 2019 at 15:09
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    Regarding computer programs like Grammarly, please see my answer here.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Oct 9, 2019 at 3:09

1 Answer 1


It's not incorrect from a grammatical perspective. From a stylistic perspective, and especially depending on the context of the writing as a whole, it may be better to use active voice. It might not, though. If the entire paragraph surrounding it is written in active voice, Grammarly may be giving good advice. You're free to disregard that advice, but you should ask yourself whether the active voice better communicates your idea. Maybe the surrounding paragraph is all in passive voice. In that case, you might be better off deciding against Grammarly's counsel.

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