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Give A Clue (A Linguist Whodunit), by Mark Cooney, 97 Mich. B. J. 60-62 (June 2017) 

“This piece first appeared in Professor Cooney’s book, Sketches on Legal Style, published by Carolina Academic Press.”


In this tongue-in-cheek parody of Hasbro’s classic board game, Clue©, Professor Cooney delightfully explains the importance of using the active voice rather than the passive.

The basic tenet of good legal writing is to put the subject and verb together, place modifiers next to what they modify, and use the active voice. The passive voice causes confusion rather than clarity because it fails to communicate the writer’s intention. There is only one valid use of the passive voice – when the actor is unknown or unimportant.

Enjoy! -CCE