Turning off Passive Voice spell-check in Word 2016

First, non SQL Server/PowerShell post…not sure I like this…

tl;dr : File | Options | Proofing | Settings | Passive Sentences

Words: 470

Reading Time: ~2.5 minutes

Warning: This is barely SQL Server/PowerShell related. It is Microsoft product related if that helps?

In the beginning…

One thing that I am starting to appreciate more and more as time goes by is Documentation.

If you’ve ever worked on a system with no documentation in place then you know of the frustration, heartbreak and rage that this instills when you’re trying to get to know the system, or even trying to troubleshoot something on that sytem.

But even the act of writing documentation can have some benefits, I’d argue that you would be hard-pressed to find something that forces you to learn about a topic more than trying to write clear and concise documentation for someone else.

What’s your problem?…

In a strange side-effect of trying to become more responsible as a DBA, I’ve actually inherited a slight case of obsessiveness about certain things.

Words need to be spelled correctly, uppercase words need to be in uppercase, and with regard to this post…


It’s documentation. Now I can understand that, depending on your work environment,  you can write in a more upbeat and active way. But for documentation, I don’t see anything wrong with this sentence:

Provision one (1) domain account, with no privileges, per service that will be run.

More like Passive Aggressive…

I’m fully expecting the paper clip guy to appear any second and start spouting “Looks like you’re writing in the Passive Voice…”

Calm yourself Word…

When this blue squiggly line (it is blue, right? I’m slightly colourblind) started to pop up everywhere on my document, and after checking things three times, I figured enough is enough and went about turning this off.

Here’s how I did it so that you can to!

Now I’m lucky enough that work have MS Word 2016, so if you have an older version YMMV. If you don’t have any version of Word, then your mileage will vary!

  • Go to “File | Options | Proofing” and scroll down to the section marked “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word”.
I’m probably not going to touch all these…
  • Click the “Settings…” button beside the ” Writing Style:” and “Grammer and Style” dropdown box. This should open up the following window.
Passive Sentences!!! Grr!!!
  • Uncheck the “Passive sentences” checkbox and click “OK”. Click “OK” on the “Proofing” window as well and you should get back to your main Word screen.

And here is where the magic happens. Our blue (purple?) squiggly lines have disappeared!


Wrap it up…

You could just click ignore when spell-checking but I tried that. It ignores it once and then the moment that it spell-checks again, it picks up these “errors” again. If there is one thing worse then errors, it’s repeating errors.

Plus isn’t that part of we, as DBAs strive for?

We’re not content with just the quick fix, but want to identify and correct the underlying problem.

Makes it easier in the long run…

Author: Shane O'Neill

DBA, T-SQL and PowerShell admirer, Food, Coffee, Whiskey (not necessarily in that order)...

30 thoughts on “Turning off Passive Voice spell-check in Word 2016”

    1. Actually, Word was complaining about something else in the sentence. Do not see way to delete initial reply.

  1. I hate passive sentence check on word!!! It’s just passively S**t! every 2 minutes. Just because word cannot understand English and the way people write. OMG it’s so annoying. I’m not passive now I’m f**king annoyed! Sorry, sorry, sorry

  2. I am so glad I found this. I detest Microsoft Products going all they way back to DOS 6 when I first typed CHKDSK, and it came back asking me if I was sure, and suggested that I run scandisk instead. That’s where it all started to go wrong with Microsoft — trying to think for us.

  3. Thank God you wrote this Post !
    It was still sorely needed in 2021 (Did I just used a passive voice ?!)

  4. God Bless you Shane. I was at the end of my OCD rope. There is a special place in heaven for you

  5. Thank you, bless you Shane O’neill, you have made the world a better place. My passive voice praises you.

  6. I totally agree with this. Passive voice is used for stating facts and is also used in conjunction with different structures to make a point…. MS is stupid and their so-called ‘Grammarians’ are not doing their job very well if they don’t understand that. It is used in journalistic styles, often. Their understanding of grammar can be described as ‘antiquated’ at best. Well done!

  7. Although certainly not SQL Server related, this is an extremely helpful post! I only recently updated MS Office to 2016, and this “feature” irritated the hell out of me. The grammar checker would rant at me when writing e.g. “It has been suggested that the grammar checker irritates it’s users”. And clicking “ignore once” will loose it’s effect when touching the paragralh again.

  8. I have noticed you don’t monetize your site,
    don’t waste your traffic, you can earn additional bucks every month.
    You can use the best adsense alternative for any type of
    website (they approve all websites), for more details simply search in gooogle: boorfe’s tips
    monetize your website

  9. I often visit your site and have noticed that you don’t update it often. More frequent updates will
    give your page higher authority & rank in google.
    I know that writing content takes a lot of time, but you can always help yourself with miftolo’s tools which
    will shorten the time of creating an article to a couple of seconds.

  10. Absolutely hate Microsoft’s recent update to Word’s grammar functionality. It stinks of grammarians and prescriptivism; Microsoft telling people how they should write when there’s nothing wrong in the first place. In particular, Microsoft now LOATHES the phrase: ‘in particular’, and always tells me to omit it! These are stylistic choices, and nothing to do with ‘correct grammar’. They would do well to get a linguist’s opinion, rather than somebody with some antiquated view on ‘good grammar’.

    1. Wait, really? What’s wrong with “in particular”?
      I love comments, this one in particular.
      shakes head in amazement and disappointment

    1. You and me both pal, you and me both…
      Plus a surprisingly number of people everyday. I don’t think a single day has gone by since I wrote this that somebody hasn’t looked at it!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: