Readability Scores

Passive Sentences Readability Score


Also known as: passive sentences readability statistics, passive sentences readability test, passive sentences readability rating, passive sentences rating, passive sentences formula, passive sentences score, passive sentences percentage, passive sentence score formula, or passive sentences ratio.

The Passive Sentences readability score formula provides the ratio of passive sentences over active sentences. The score is therefore expressed as a percentage of passive sentences found in a text. Aim at the lowest passive sentences ratio for the best readability. It's well known that a text exempt of passive sentences doesn't hamper the reading flow, give strength to the exposed ideas, thus ease the understanding and persuasion process.

Passive Sentences Score Formula

The Passive Sentences readability score formula is:



PSS : Passive Sentences score,
also called Passive Sentences ratio
PS : number of passive sentences
AS : number of active sentences
Important note:

You may find below the definition of passive sentences formula that is commonly erroneous:

PSS = PS / AS * 100

Indeed, the correct example below shows that the initial formula (PSS=PS/AS) is already, mathematically by essence, a percentage, thus, you don't need to multiply it by 100:

PSS = 5 / 100 = 0.05 = 5%

So, writing the following is mathematically wrong:

PSS = 5/100*100=5%

Also known as: passive sentences scale, passive sentences level, passive sentences assessment, passive sentences readability statistics, passive sentences test, or passive sentences equation.

How to find out whether a sentence is passive or active?

In order to compute the Passive Sentences score, we need to qualify a sentence as passive.

Passive Sentence Definition

A sentence is passive whenever you encounter the 3 following requirements:

  1. a form of the passive auxiliary BE (be/been/is/are/was/were),
  2. followed by a verb,
  3. and then a past form (verb + ed or an irregular past form).

Does it mean you need to ban passive sentences?

No. But it's a good practice in order to ensure the best readability to have a passive sentences score as low as possible. To lower the score, you can simply avoid using a passive sentence whenever you can replace it with its active version, as far as you don't loose its semantic or a significant part of it. Perfection doesn't mean a score of passive sentences equal to 0. Indeed, passive sentences are not always bad for readability. Indeed, sometimes they may be useful, particularly to highlight the passive character of a fact ("He was overwhelmed by stress due to our tight deadlines"), or whenever it doesn't matter who is responsible for the action ("More and more, cars are made from composite and synthetic materials"). So, aim at a passive sentences score not equal to but close to 0.

Common misspellings: passiev sentences, passiev sentences, passive snetences, passive sentneces, passive sentecnes, passive sentenecs, or passive sentencse.

Best-known Readability Statistics, Scores, and Formulas

The ratio of passive sentences is part of the best-known readability scores, amongst other indicators measuring how easily an adult can read and understand a text. Readability statistics are good predictors of the level of difficulty of documents, particularly technical ones. They present different readability scores that are computed using readability formulas. Other readability statistics most commonly used are:

How to display Passive Sentences Readability Score in MS Word?

Microsoft's version of Passive Sentences readability score

Microsoft Word (MS Word), as a powerful word processor, provide you with a built-in tool to display this readability score, amongst other statistics:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab.
  2. Select the Check grammar with spelling check box.
  3. Select the Show readability statistics check box, and then click OK.
  4. Click Spelling and Grammar on the Standard toolbar.
    It is only when Word finishes checking spelling and grammar that it will display information about the reading level of the document. To skip the correction process, press the "Ignore All" button located in the upper right part of the suggestion box, then will appear the Readability Scores box. Passive Sentences Readability Score appears in 8th position.

Be aware that MS Word displays this readability score, like any other readability score, for text in the last language that was checked, likely in the last processed paragraph.


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