Hi Fair Trade!
OK, my absolute rule is to NOT use passive voice unless you don’t know who or what did something, it isn’t critical to even know (no one really cares), or you’re trying to be tactful.
Passive voice: “The rates were set in 1991.” It’s a passive sentence because the actor/doer (the person or agency that set the rates) is not mentioned. Since the action happened back in 1991, it may not matter or even be possible to know who did it.
In terms of being tactful, it’s possible to say what happened but not who caused it to happen by using passive voice: “Mistakes have been made.” (By whom?) See? No one is shamed publicly by that (even if everyone knows who made the mistake). The person who caused it isn’t named.
You’ve given me a great post to put out this Wednesday in my Wednesday’s Words series — let me do that this week and give you even more information, OK?
And I will include some info on using/not using adverbs as well.
Thanks so much for asking!