In time, has been will be a has been

earth in a time vortext with title, in time has been will be a has been Reading Time: 2 minutes

This is a tense comparison between colloquial habit and writing standards. 

This blog post is about avoiding passive writing and how to revise passive copy to make it effective. I explain that when writing statements about transactions, “has been” is not recommended. Instead, I use the present tense or use a pronoun to own the action. (The Hemingway App can help here). A positive graphic can make our messaging more engaging, too. The conclusion is that the phrase, “has been” is a has been.

Note: you can visit Grammarly’s website to revise the science of passive and active writing.


We read passive copy that confirms a transaction is complete all the time. In this following example, I’ve highlighted the passive phrases.

Example copy with two passive phrases

Your order has been prepared and will be delivered soon.

We’re writing a correct tense that conflicts with our consumer’s context in time. Although prepared in the past, it is now prepared in the present.

“Has been” may describe our labours when completing the transaction? As a consumer, do I care? No. I only care that we are progressing our transaction.

Working through our solutions

There’s more than one solution. Of course, it depends! The following works through the example copy and its scenario. Yours may be different.

Revision 1

Your order is prepared and will be delivered soon.

Whoops. We didn’t see that coming? We need to add an owner to the prepare action.

Revision 2

We’ve prepared your order and it will be delivered soon.

That’s the preparation dealt with. And, “will be delivered”? That’s still passive. Let’s revise the statement again.

Revision 3

We’ve prepared your order and we’ll deliver it soon.

That’s OK and doesn’t conclude our transaction. Our order is ready to deliver and we lost any sense of when to expect it. The delivery process doesn’t appear to have started. The repeat of “we” is awkward too. We need one more revision.

Revison 4

We’ve prepared your order. Expect its delivery soon!

Note: We’re not promising a delivery date range. This is wise when delivery is outside our business’ control. When we need to include a delivery date estimate, then consider adding a separate clause.

I’d like to add a smiley or positive feeling graphic too. There’s more to happy writing than words alone.


There’s a good choice of copy writing tools that can diagnose your passive writing. My preference is the Hemingway app. It’s free to use and fills in for my favourite copyeditor and word-whiz, Liz Ryan.


Avoiding passive writing can take effort and we can’t always avoid it. Like everything in design, it depends. For this example, “has been” will be removed from our problem locker. (Doh!)

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