Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Allowing Passive Voice in Writing.

Allowing Passive Voice in Writing

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 7, 2019)


Sheryl prefers passive voice for some of her writing (such as business documents and correspondence) rather than active voice. The grammar checker on Word always marks instances of passive voice. Sheryl would like to turn off the portion of the grammar checker that checks for passive voice so that it is not marked as an error.

Word allows you to choose which grammar checking rules it follows and which it doesn't. To change this particular setting (the one for passive voice), follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or in a later version display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click the Proofing option at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Proofing options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Click the Settings button. Word displays the Grammar Settings dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The Grammar Settings dialog box.

  6. Make sure there is no check mark next to the Passive Sentences option (or Passive Voice option in Word 2016 or a later version). (You'll need to scroll down a bit to see the option.)
  7. Click on OK to close the Grammar Settings dialog box.
  8. Click on OK to close the Word Options dialog box.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7350) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Allowing Passive Voice in Writing.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


Finding the Sum of a Sequential Integer Range

In mathematics, the sum of a range of sequential integers, starting with 1, is known as a triangular number or Gaussian ...

Discover More

Removing Pictures for a Worksheet in VBA

Excel allows you to add pictures to your worksheet, even within a macro. However, you might have a bit harder time ...

Discover More

Forcing a Worksheet to be Protected Again

Excel allows you to protect your worksheets so they can only be changed as you want to have happen. If you unprotect a ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Allowing Sentence Fragments

Grammar, particularly in English, has a perplexing array of rules and exceptions to those rules. Word does a fairly good ...

Discover More

Checking Up On Numbers

When do you use digits in your prose and when do you spell out the numbers? Why not let Word help you make the decision? ...

Discover More

Adding Phrases to the Grammar Checker

Word's grammar checker dutifully tries to mark all the questionable grammar in your sentences. If you are tired of a ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one less than 3?

2018-10-02 14:45:56

Melody Cornelius

I have unchecked "Passive Sentences" and am still getting phrases flagged for using "Passive Voice".

2018-09-19 09:42:50


Thanks really helpful

2018-05-11 17:09:23


Thank you so much. Super easy!!

2018-04-04 19:47:19


Wait, check or no check next to the Passive Sentences option?

I'm currently trying to turn this off because I'm constantly getting annoying Passive Voice for my green squiggles, and I write technical documents in which Passive Voice is preferred. When I went to Grammar Settings, under "Style", everything (including Passive sentences) is unchecked already.

Thanks for all your articles by the way, it's helped me a lot.

2018-01-31 03:25:23


Great help. thanks

2017-09-18 10:21:24


Have been trying to figure this out for a while, thank you for sharing. However, I am unable to access that box as it is grayed out - see below. How do I make these items accessible?

(see Figure 1 below)

Figure 1. 

2017-09-05 20:56:02


Thanks in million

2017-03-01 03:17:43


this worked just fine! thanks! those blue squiggly lines were beginning to annoy the heck out of me!

2017-02-05 10:45:11


Thank you so very much!!!!! I usually spend ages going back and hitting ignore for each passive statement! Very grateful!

2016-02-18 10:14:14


Thanks a ton!
For ages I have been driven crazy by this thing ! ;)

2016-01-22 03:45:32


thanks a lot fix it

2015-08-17 15:10:08


Will this only hide passive voice for anyone who opens this document? Anyone I send it to? Or would they need to adjust their setting too?

2015-07-19 05:33:35


So annoying to see this, when writing a scientific research paper. Thanks!

2015-03-21 08:05:14



It really bothered me for a while...


2014-08-29 11:15:47


Thanks a lot!! It was already driving me crazy and I thought I was making a lot of mistakes since I'm translating an acaedmic article. Totally agree with Tim thou, I was a little lost on step 3.

2014-08-07 14:39:58


thank you! This is so easy to follow compared to other instructions, and it actually FIXED the problem. You are awesome!

2014-07-30 04:48:58



2014-05-30 05:47:29


Thanks for this Advice, I fixed that issue, long standing.

You are amazing!!!!!!!!!!

What about???

Use of First Perosn ( consider revising )

Driving me crazy

2013-07-30 23:54:35


I often use passive voice, so this article was very helpful. Step 3 was confusing, however. It should explain that the Settings button is behind the Writing Style drop-down menu. Thanks a bunch!

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.