Converting Passive to Active – Translating Audit Reports into English

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Auditors are tasked to identify non-conformances and share their findings and observations in a clear and understandble report.

Writing an impactful report is a challenge. Translating a poorly written report into English is sometimes a bigger challenge.

Converting passive sentence forms to active sentences is an important skill for Turkish to English translators. This skill plays a critical role when translating audit reports.

Despite my best efforts to train as many auditors and bankers as possible in the past decade, auditors won’t change their traditions easily. I can see that.

Turkish accountants, lawyers and auditors simply love passive voice, assuming that passive voice adds a more formal and serious image to their report. However, modern English style on legal documents or banking reports encourage active sentence structures.

Furthermore, verbatim translations of some sentences just don’t read well. I will give examples below.

Turkish translators need to employ multiple tactics to convert passive to active and produce a clear, well-written document.

1. Sentences with ‘bakıldığında’ or ‘baktığımızda’:

Turkish source: 30.06.2017 tarihli verilere bakıldığında, Beş Şubemizdeki kredi portföyünün toplam Ticari Bankacılık portföyünün %12’sini oluşturduğu görülmektedir

English with passive: Looking at the data dated June 6, 2017,  it is noted that the loan portfolio in five of our branches constitute 12 percent of the total Commercial Banking portfolio.

English with active (Dragoman Style): The data dated June 06, 2017 indicates that the loan portfolio in five of our branches constitute 12 percent of the total Commercial Banking portfolio.

Key message: Bakıldığında….görülmektedir / Baktığımızda….görüyoruz is a typical Turkish sentence structure for auditors. Dragoman Style ignores these two verbs and replaces the passive structure with an active verb, i.e. indicates, shows, reveals, etc.

2. Sentences with ‘belirlenen’, ‘tespit edilen’, etc. ending with ‘belirlenmiştir’, ‘görülmüştür’

Turkish source: Bir önceki raporla süreçlerde belirlenen eksikliklerin, bu rapor döneminde de giderilmediği görülmüştür. 

English with passive: It has been seen that the deficiencies identified in the previous reporting period are not resolved in the reporting period either.

Shorter English version (Dragoman Style): Deficiencies identified in the previous reporting period are not resolved yet.

Key message: You do not have to repeat ‘reporting period’ in this sentence. You may also choose to omit verbs like ‘it has been seen’ in some sentences. The idea is a) tighten sentences b) add variety to the report. This tactic does not produce an active sentence but eliminates double passive.

3. Sentences with ‘belirtilmiştir’

Turkish source: Çalışılan firmalarla yapılan sözleşmelerde, Bankanın gerekli gördüğü takdirde firmanın müşterilerinin verilerini pazarlama amaçlı kullanılabileceği belirtilmiştir.

English with passive: In the contracts made with the companies it is stated that if the Bank deems it necessary, it may use the company’s customer data for marketing purposes.

English with active (Dragoman Style): The company contracts state that the Bank may use the company’s customer data for marketing purposes, when deemed necessary.

Key message: Replacing ‘it is stated that’ in the passive sentence with ‘state that’ in the active form is just enough to improve fluency. Please also note that ‘contracts made with the companies’ is also redundant.

4-Sentences with ‘önerilmektedir’ or ‘önerilmiştir’

Turkish source: Komisyon tahsilatlarının sistem üzerinden otomatik tahsil edilmesine ilişkin sistemsel geliştirmenin yapılması önerilmiştir

English with passive:  It is recommended that systems development be undertaken to automate the commission collections on the system. 

English with active (Dragoman Style): We recommend that systems are developed to automate the DBS commission collections on the system.

Key message: Replacing ‘it is recommended’ in the passive sentence with ‘we recommend’ in the active form is tricky because you need to make sure that the authors are recommending it. Oddly enough, 90% of Turkish auditors do not write I suggest or we recommend but say it is recommended in Turkish. Dragoman Style prefers active voice when the agent is known. Please also noticed that ‘development be undertaken to automate’ is wordy and can be tightened as ‘developed to automate’.


I hope this article helps translators and copy-editors to produce a great audit report translation which is easy to read and understand in English.