This is not a quiz. You will not be graded. Do your best
This paragraph is from the Daily News. Use the active voice to make it better. You can break it up into more than one or two sentences.
The Empire State is one step closer to approving adult use marijuana after Gov. Cuomo released an amended version of his pot proposal Tuesday that would reduce criminal penalties for illegal sales, outlines how some of the tax revenue would be spent and allows for the delivery of cannabis products.
This is from Vice. Use the active voice to make it better.
So after one Ohio mother was arrested on charges of child endangerment for allegedly leaving her young kids in a motel room while she tried to go to her job at Little Caesars, sympathetic people rallied to support her.
This is from me. Take out the clunky words and phrases and use the active voice to explain the problem.
Currently my boss won’t give me the extra money he promised and I really need the money and the job due to COVID and due to the fact that there are so few jobs available.
From the New York Post. Use the active voice and rewrite the story.
Ryan Leaf is calling for the NFL to do more for retired players in the wake of Vincent Jackson’s death.
Police are investigating and a cause of death has yet to be determined by the county medical examiner.
This is from the New York Times. Use the active voice to rewrite it.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Admitting a degree of fault for the first time, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday that his administration’s lack of transparency about the scope of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes in New York was a mistake.
Active writing allows you to say what you mean in a clear concise way with colorful verbs that paint a picture.
In 1946, the writer George Orwell, author of Animal Farm and 1984, complained about politicians and others who use fuzzy language to hide the truth.
“Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin where it belongs,” Orwell wrote.
In his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language set out six rules for clear writing. “Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print; Never use a long word where a short one will do; If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out; Never use the passive where you can use the active; Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent; Break any of these rules sooner than say anything barbarous.” – George Orwell
Here’s a contemporary example of what Orwell talked about from former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron D. Singletary.
“As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character.”
“The mischaracterizations and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for.”
How can he say the same thing simply and directly?
I have integrity and won’t put up with people who want to destroy my character. Critics distorted what I said and did after I learned about Mr. Prude’s death. Their comments do not reflect who I am.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talking about his expectations for the Republicans in the midterm-elections.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”
How can he say the same thing simply and directly?
I think Republicans will flip the House but not the Senate. Some of the candidates don’t have broad appeal and won’t do well in state-wide races.
Then there is outright political doublespeak that George Orwell wrote about. Here are examples from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin often uses words to mean exactly the opposite of what they really mean.
He claims that Russian troops want the “denazification” of Ukraine but he is attempting to overthrow or even kill Ukraine’s Jewish president, who is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor.
We want to make sure that we do not manipulate words or distort meaning and language.
Journalists want to write and speak truthfully and clearly.
How do we write a clear, direct sentence?
We make sure the subject does the action.
What does that mean?
Put the subject before the verb and the object.
Active sentence: Subject-Verb-Object
The verb determines action
Former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster
twisted a sentence when he defended former PresidentTrump’s discussion with Russian diplomats.
“At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.”
Or he could say,
President Trump did not discuss intelligence sources or methods, nor did he disclose secret military operations.
Note that McMaster used the word “were.” The passive verb were makes a sentence fuzzy, or clunky.
You create a passive verb when you make the subject the object of the action.
The hardest hit baseball in recorded history, 122.4 mph,
was hit by Pittsburgh Pirate’s Oneil Cruz.
Pittsburgh Pirate Oneil Cruz blasted a ball 122.4 mph, the fastest in baseball history.
Colorful verbs that tell a story and convey action create strong sentences.
Weak passive verbs make mushy sentences. You want to use action-filled verbs.
That brings us back to were and the to be verbs. They don’t convey action.
So we try avoid using: to be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been
Passive The roads were destroyed by heavy rains.
Heavy rains were responsible for the destruction of the roads.
Heavy rains destroyed the roads.
The goalie crouched low, reached out his stick, and sent the rebound away from the mouth of the net.
The goalie swept out his stick, and hooked the rebound away from the mouth of the net.
The cause of 130 fires so far in 2022 was lithium-ion scooter batteries.
Lithium-ion scooter batters caused 130 fires so far in 2022.
The legislation was sent to Congress by the president.
The president sent the legislation to Congress.
The president sent Congress the legislation.
The earthquake in Puerto Rico caused victims to be airlifted by helicopter to the hospital.
A helicopter airlifted victims of the earthquake in Puerto Rico and rushed them to the hospital.
A helicopter airlifted earthquake victims and rushed them to the hospital.
Carolina is responsible for monitoring and balancing the budgets for the journalists.
Carolina monitors and balances the budgets
Carolina monitors and balances budgets.
Use the passive voice when you want to emphasize the receiver of an action, not the actor.
Many Long Beach residents were forced to leave the beautiful beach area to escape the hurricane.
Use strong, colorful verbs
Violate instead of in violation
Resisted instead of was resistant
Avoid Passive Phrases Like These:
Had been passive
A gerund acts like a verb and a noun. You form a gerund by adding –ing to the end of a verb:
run, running play, playing
A gerund describes action or a state of being. Grammarians consider gerunds a lovely way to write.
But in ACTIVE writing a gerund can slow down a sentence.
The Mets are feeling like losers at this point in the season.
The Mets feel like losers at this point in the season.
Fans are wondering if the Jets will be losing games all season.
Fans wonder if the Jets will lose games all season.
Nets players are surprising their new coach with their driving ambition.
Nets players surprised their new coach with their drive and ambition.
We sat up all night reading.
We read all night.
We sat up and read all night.
I like to go jeeping in the woods.
I live to ride my jeep in the woods.
But gerunds can work when you talk about continuous action.
You might tell someone:
We jumped over puddles last night.
But if it continued to rain:
We spent the week jumping over puddles because of the constant rain.
CLUNKY WORDS AND PHRASES
Some words and phrases make sentences fuzzy.
Currently Due to Prior to In an effort to For the purpose of In order to Is of the opinion that Due to the fact that In the near future At this point in time During my time Subsequent Affinity For Am Willing
PRESENT PERFECT, PAST PERFECT and FUTURE PERFECT Passive form: have/has been + past participle had been + past participle
Active: Present Perfect I have mailed the gift. Jack has mailed the gifts.
Passive: Present Perfect The gift has been mailed by me. The gifts have been mailed by Jack.
Active: Past Perfect Steven Spielberg had directed the movie. Penny Marshall had directed those movies.
Passive: Past Perfect The movie had been directed by Steven Spielberg. The movies had been directed by Penny Marshall.
Active: Future Perfect John will have finished the project next month. They will have finished the projects before then.
Passive: Future Perfect The project will have been finished by next month. The projects will have been finished before then.
FUTURE TENSES Passive forms: will + be + past participle is/are going to be + past participle
Active: Future with WILL I will mail the gift. Jack will mail the gifts.
Passive: Future with WILL The gift will be mailed by me. The gifts will be mailed by Jack.
Active: Future with GOING TO I am going to make the cake. Sue is going to make two cakes.
Passive: Future with GOING TO The cake is going to be made by me. Two cakes are going to be made by Sue.
PRESENT / FUTURE MODALS The passive form follows this pattern: modal + be + past participle
Active: WILL / WON’T (WILL NOT) Sharon will invite Tom to the party. Sharon won’t invite Jeff to the party. (Sharon will not invite Jeff to the party.)
Passive: WILL / WON’T (WILL NOT) Tom will be invited to the party by Sharon. Jeff won’t be invited to the party by Sharon. (Jeff will not be invited to the party by Sharon.)
Active: CAN / CAN’T (CAN NOT) Mai can foretell the future. Terry can’t foretell the future. (Terry can not foretell the future.)
Passive: CAN / CAN’T (CAN NOT) The future can be foretold by Mai. The future can’t be foretold by Terry. (The future can not be foretold by Terry.)
Active: MAY / MAY NOT Her company may give Katya a new office. The lazy students may not do the homework. MIGHT / MIGHT NOT Her company might give Katya a new office. The lazy students might not do the homework.
Passive: MAY / MAY NOT Katya may be given a new office by her company. The homework may not be done by the lazy students. MIGHT / MIGHT NOT Katya might be given a new office by her company. The homework might not be done by the lazy students.
Active: SHOULD / SHOULDN’T Students should memorize English verbs. Children shouldn’t smoke cigarettes.
Passive: SHOULD / SHOULDN’T English verbs should be memorized by students. Cigarettes shouldn’t be smoked by children.
Active: OUGHT TO Students ought to learn English verbs. (negative ought to is rarely used)
Passive: OUGHT TO English verbs ought to be memorized by students.
Active: HAD BETTER / HAD BETTER NOT Students had better practice English every day. Children had better not drink whiskey.
Passive: HAD BETTER / HAD BETTER NOT English had better be practiced every day by students. Whiskey had better not be drunk by children.
Active: MUST / MUST NOT Tourists must apply for a passport to travel abroad. Customers must not use that door.
Passive: MUST / MUST NOT A passport to travel abroad must be applied for. That door must not be used by customers.
Active: HAS TO / HAVE TO She has to practice English every day. Sara and Miho have to wash the dishes every day. DOESN’T HAVE TO/ DON’T HAVE TO Maria doesn’t have to clean her bedroom every day. The children don’t have to clean their bedrooms every day.
Passive: HAS TO / HAVE TO English has to be practiced every day. The dishes have to be washed by them every day. DOESN’T HAVE TO/ DON’T HAVE TO Her bedroom doesn’t have to be cleaned every day. Their bedrooms don’t have to be cleaned every day.
Active: BE SUPPOSED TO I am supposed to type the composition. I am not supposed to copy the stories in the book. Janet is supposed to clean the living room. She isn’t supposed to eat candy and gum. They are supposed to make dinner for the family. They aren’t supposed to make dessert.
Passive: BE SUPPOSED TO The composition is supposed to be typed by me. The stories in the book are not supposed to be copied. The living room is supposed to be cleaned by Janet. Candy and gum aren’t supposed to be eaten by her. Dinner for the family is supposed to be made by them. Dessert isn’t supposed to be made by them.
PAST MODALS The past passive form follows this pattern: modal + have been + past participle
Active: SHOULD HAVE / SHOULDN’T HAVE The students should have learned the verbs. The children shouldn’t have broken the window.
Passive: SHOULD HAVE / SHOULDN’T HAVE The verbs should have been learned by the students. The window shouldn’t have been broken by the children.
Active: OUGHT TO Students ought to have learned the verbs. (negative ought to is rarely used)
Passive: OUGHT TO The verbs ought to have been learned by the students.
Active: BE SUPPOSED TO (past time) I was supposed to type the composition. I wasn’t supposed to copy the story in the book. Janet was supposed to clean the living room. She wasn’t supposed to eat candy and gum. Frank and Jane were supposed to make dinner. They weren’t supposed to make dessert.
Passive: BE SUPPOSED TO (past time) The composition was supposed to be typed by me. The story in the book wasn’t supposed to be copied. The living room was supposed to be cleaned by Janet. Candy and gum weren’t supposed to be eaten by her. Dinner was supposed to be made by them. Dessert wasn’t supposed to be made by them.
Active: MAY / MAY NOT That firm may have offered Katya a new job. The students may not have written the paper. MIGHT / MIGHT NOT That firm might have offered Katya a new job. The students might not have written the paper.
Passive: MAY / MAY NOT Katya may have been offered a new job by that firm. The paper may not have been written by the students. MIGHT / MIGHT NOT Katya might have been offered a new job by that firm. The paper might not have been written by the students.
Some people want to talk and others don’t. You must try your best to get people to talk to you and tell you what you want to know.
All interviews require the same basic skills. You need to prepare. You want to research and find out everything you can about the subject before you ask a question.
Breaking News Challenge
If you head to a breaking news story, you want to find out whatever facts are available before you get there. When you arrive at the scene of the story, you want to quickly assess the situation and decide who can give you the best information.
You want to pause for a minute or two to think about what you learned and decide who you need to interview.
Then you want to calmly approach the person, introduce yourself and try to make a human connection. That will help you talk to the interview subject and get the best answers.
Remember to ask open-ended questions instead of questions that give you a yes or no answer.
Listen to the answers. Look into the interview subjects’ eyes and pay attention to the cues they give you.
Ask follow-up questions based on their answers.
Remember to be a fellow human being instead of a reporter on a mission.
In a sit-down interview preparation is key. You want to make sure that you know everything about your subject. Celebrities, politicians and athletes will tell you what they want to tell you. So you must think about what you and your readers, viewers or listeners want to know. Look for the unusual, something others haven’t covered before.
In an effort to
For the purpose of
In order to
Is of the opinion that
Due to the fact that
In the near future
At this point in time
During my time
In general, do not use courtesy titles except in direct quotations. When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who use the same last name, as in married couples or brothers and sisters, use the first and last name.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, guarantees freedom of religion and speech, the press and the right of people to gather to protest and complain to the government.
In its own words:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to freely assemble, and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
After the founders of the United States wrote the U.S. Constitution, some of them realized they had left out critical guarantees to safeguard the type of nation, free of tyranny, they and others wanted.
The newly minted senators and congressmen debated about whether “checks and balances” would protect the rights of the people, or whether they needed to write amendments to the Constitution.
Freedom of the press was one of the priorities for Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson wrote a letter to another lawmaker saying,
“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
Some wanted to rewrite the Constitution but worried that people would think that they intended to tear up what they wanted to protect. They turned to U.S. Virginia Representative James Madison, a good thinker and a good writer.
Madison argued that, “A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
In 1789 Madison drafted amendments and presented them to the House of Representatives. The House approved 17 amendments. The Senate approved 12 and the states ratified 10 in December, 1791 as the Bill of Rights.
Thomas Jefferson became the third President of the United States and James Madison became the fourth.
Selina McNeal called the police just before 2 a.m. on Wednesday because the superintendent of her apartment building was screaming obscenities and breaking glass in the hallway. She briefly opened her door and spotted him, completely naked, she said.
Minutes later, eight uniformed police officers arrived, pouring out of an elevator. As Ms. McNeal hid under the bed, she heard a struggle and officers yelling, “Shoot him! Shoot him!” Then came a series of shots. “Pop, pop, pop, pop,” she said.
In a matter of seconds, the police officers shot and killed the superintendent, who they said had pointed a gun at them. One officer grappled with the naked man before the shooting started and was shot in the chest during the struggle, the police said. His bulletproof vest stopped the slug.
On Thursday, the police said the man, identified as Victor Hernandez, 29, had fired the bullet that struck Officer Christopher Wintermute on the left side of his chest and lodged in his body armor. Mr. Hernandez’s killing was the fifth deadly shooting by the New York police in a month.
A review of surveillance footage recovered at the scene and body cameras worn by seven of the responding officers showed that Officer Wintermute was first to arrive at the building’s second floor, the police said.
There the officer encountered a naked Mr. Hernandez in “a shooting stance” at the end of the hallway, said Deputy Chief Kevin Maloney, who leads the Force Investigation Division.
As the two men grappled, Officer Wintermute yelled for backup. Three of his colleagues responded and fired 17 rounds at Mr. Hernandez, Chief Maloney said. Ten bullets hit him.
“I did not want him dead,” Ms. McNeal said, hours after she first called the police. “I just wanted to find out what was going on.”
Mr. Hernandez, a father of two and the son of a police officer, had become the building’s superintendent fairly recently, his family members and neighbors said. Ms. McNeal said that before she called 911, Mr. Hernandez had been yelling in the hall for about 20 minutes, making vulgar threats about a woman.
The police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, said on Wednesday that the officers arrived at about 1:50 a.m. and fanned out to search the second-floor hallway of the building, at 2785 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, and encountered a naked man with a gun. “A violent struggle immediately began and shots were fired,” the commissioner said.
Chief Maloney said Mr. Hernandez had been the subject of six domesticcomplaints in the past. He was last arrested in 2014. He has never been accused of any crime involving drugs, weapons or violence, officials and family members said.
Ms. McNeal said that when she briefly opened the door and saw Mr. Hernandez, she did not see a weapon in his hands. “I saw something that looked like a laptop or a tablet,” she said.
During the shooting, Ms. McNeal said, she was hiding under her bed in tears. After the shots rang out, she heard officers shout, “Watch the fire.” Shortly afterward, she said she heard them yelling at one another, “Where is the gun?”
After the confrontation ended, Ms. McNeal again opened the door and saw Mr. Hernandez lying on the floor face up. The police later told her that what she thought was a tablet was actually a firearm.
“I’m still crying,” Ms. McNeal said. “I close my eyes and it’s all I can see and hear.”
Mr. Hernandez’s family members and neighbors remembered him as a dedicated father to a 6-year-old daughter and an older son, a caring relative and an ambitious man who worked hard.
His aunt, Ana Martinez, said Mr. Hernandez grew up in the Crotona Park East neighborhood of the Bronx. He had taken the police officer and firefighter exams and was studying at Bronx Community College, she said.
Mr. Hernandez’s ex-wife lived in the Throgs Neck neighborhood of the Bronx, Ms. Martinez said. The two had been fighting over custody of their children, and the domestic accusations stemmed from arguments between them, Ms. Martinez said.
The ex-wife, Jaimily Hernandez, declined to comment.
Mr. Hernandez’s mother, Maria, has spent 19 years as a New York police officer, most recently in the Bronx, and he wanted to follow in her footsteps, according to Ms. Martinez. Mr. Hernandez also had relatives who were law enforcement officers in Milwaukee, Florida and Puerto Rico.
Given that Mr. Hernandez came from a law-enforcement family, Ms. Martinez said, she doubted her nephew would have acted violently toward police officers, and she disputed the characterization of him as emotionally disturbed or violent.
“They’re depicting him like he was some kind of psycho or something and he was a menace to society, but he was a person,” Ms. Martinez said. “His mom was on the force for 19 years. She served that city for 19 years, and they murdered her son.”
In a tribute posted to Facebook, Mr. Hernandez’s younger sister, Melissa, said her brother had been her best friend and her protector, an industrious, creative and loving person.
Mr. Hernandez “was always good at everything,” she wrote. He learned to play piano by ear, taught himself to make high-quality videos and had strong technical and mechanical skills.
“My brother could do so many things, and it was always clear to me that he was destined for greatness,” wrote Mr. Hernandez’s sister, who declined to comment further. “Unfortunately, he’ll never get to use any of his many skills.”
Hours before the shooting, Mr. Hernandez ate dinner at a cousin’s house, Ms. Martinez said. He had also picked up his mother from the airport, where she had returned from a vacation in the Dominican Republic.
Over text message, his mother, Maria Hernandez, said, “His only contact with the police before this was domestic with his wife.”
She declined to comment further, saying: “Just know Victor was a kind, gentle soul. And my entire world.”
In Harlem, neighbors said Mr. Hernandez seemed in public to be a quiet, calm person.
Pedro Ramos, 44, who lives on the seventh floor of the building, said he had befriended Mr. Hernandez.
“He was a sane, good guy,” Mr. Ramos said with a tone of disbelief.“This shocks me.”
Jerome Selassie, 55, who owns the corner store across the street from the site of the shooting, said he saw Mr. Hernandez often and never knew him to be violent.
“I saw him last night, at around midnight,” Mr. Selassie said. “He was running to his apartment because it was raining. He waved at me. That was the last time I saw him. He looked O.K. to me.”
Officer Wintermute, 32, has been on the police force for seven years, working most of that time on patrol in the 32nd Precinct in Harlem. His wife is also a police officer.
During the struggle with Mr. Hernandez, Officer Wintermute was punched several times in the face and took the impact of the bullet hitting his Kevlar vest, officials said. Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was in “good spirits” after the shooting, and he was released from Mount Sinai St. Luke’s hospital a few hours later.Fellow officers applauded him as he was taken in a wheelchair to a waiting police van.
Officer Mulkeen was the second officer to be killed by “friendly fire” this year. In February, Detective Brian Simonsen was hit in the chest and killed as he and other officers were firing at a robber in a cellphone store in Queens. The robber turned out to have a fake gun.
The police said Wednesday’s incident was the 47th time this year officers have discharged their weapons in confrontations with civilians. Ten of them have died.
“It’s high in the last couple of weeks, but it’s part of where we’ve been consistent in the last couple of years,” Chief Maloney said.
Ms. Martinez said Mr. Hernandez sometimes expressed fear for his mother’s safety because she was a police officer. But his family also feared for his.
“We always told them if the police stop you, you make sure you be respectful and give them whatever they want because you don’t want them to shoot you,” Ms. Martinez recalled. “It’s hard when you have minority children, especially boys, and you have to tell them that.”
Susan Beachy contributed research.
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misspelled the given name of a resident who called the police. She is Selina McNeal, not Selena McNeal. It also misstated the age of a man who was killed. He was 29, not 27.