Evaluated By vs. With

Here’s another example of how those pesky little prepositions after a verb can change the whole meaning of a sentence.

Bad Example:
The safety of the Change-a-roni process must be evaluated by a full risk assessment.

Using the preposition “by” here means that the risk assessment did the evaluating, when in actuality a person did the evaluating using some kind of risk assessment methodology. How can we correct this?

Corrected Examples:
The safety of the Change-a-roni process must be evaluated with a full risk assessment.
The safety of the Change-a-roni process must be evaluated via a full risk assessment.
The safety of the Change-a-roni process must be evaluated using a full risk assessment.
The safety of the Change-a-roni process must be evaluated by means of a full risk assessment.

These prepositions better reflect that the risk assessment is a tool or process to be used, not the doer of the action verb “to evaluate.”

“Must be evaluated by” is a passive sentence construction, where the doer of the action is an unnamed person, whom we will call Jim.
If we switched this to an active voice, we would say:
Jim must evaluate the safety of the Change-a-roni process ___ a full risk assessment.

Using the four prepositions suggested in the corrected examples above sounds much better than using the incorrect “by” in the active voice.
However, you can use “by” if you add some other verbiage.

More Corrected Examples – Active Voice:
Jim must evaluate the safety of the Change-a-roni process by carrying out a full risk assessment.
Jim must evaluate the safety of the Change-a-roni process by conducting a full risk assessment.
Jim must evaluate the safety of the Change-a-roni process by performing a full risk assessment.
Jim must evaluate the safety of the Change-a-roni process by completing a full risk assessment.
And if you substitute these expressions in the corrected passive voice examples, you will see that they work just as well as “with,” “using,” or “via.”

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Profound Quote of the Day:

“The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.”
Edwin Schlossberg, American designer, author and artist, husband of Caroline Kennedy, b. 1945

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