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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

active and passive voice..

Verbs and Voice
  • Voice is the form a verb takes to indicate whether the subject of the verb performs or receives the action.
  • There are two types of voice:  active voice and passive voice.
Active Voice
  • Active Voice – indicates that the subject of the verb is acting
  • Because the subject does or "acts upon" the verb in such sentences, the sentences are said to be in the active voice.
  • These examples show that the subject is  doing the verb's action.
    • The dog jumped onto the boy.
      • The dog (subject) is doing the jumping (verb).
    • Kristy will give a book report to the class.
      • Kristy (subject) is doing the giving (verb).
    • The computer printed my paper.
      • The computer (subject) is doing the printing (verb).
Passive Voice
  • In a passive voice sentence, the subject and object flip-flop. The subject becomes the passive recipient of the action.
  • Because the subject is being "acted upon" (or is passive), such sentences are said to be in the passive voice.
  • These examples show the subject being acted upon by the verb. 
  • The boy was jumped on by the dog.
    • Boy (subject)  was being jumped on (verb)
  • A book report will be given by Kristy to the class.
    • Report (subject) will be given (verb).
  • My paper was printed by the computer.           
    • Paper (subject) was being printed (verb).
  • Passive voice is used when the agent (doer of an action) is obvious, unknown, or unnecessary.
ú  Oranges are grown in California.
ú  Toyotas are made in Japan.
Her purse was stolen.
  • Passive voice is used when the speaker/writer wants to emphasize a result or emphasize the receiver of the action instead of the performer.
ú  Seven thousand people were killed by the earthquake
  • The earthquake killed 7,000 people.
ú  The professor was hit by three snowballs.
  • Three snowballs hit the professor.
Reasons to Use the Active Voice
  • Most writers prefer to use active voice because it is more direct.
  • Compare
ú  Active: The waiter dropped the tray of food.
ú  Passive: The tray of food was dropped by the waiter.
  • The active voice is less awkward and clearly states relationship between subject and action.
  • Compare
ú  Passive: Your request for funding has been denied by the review committee.
ú  Active: The review committee denied your request for funding.
  • The active voice sentence pattern propels the reader forward through your writing thus avoiding weak prose.
When to Use Passive Voice
  • In general, the passive voice is less direct, less forceful, and less concise than the active voice. 
  • Use the passive voice in the following situations:
ú  Use passive voice when you do not know or do not want to reveal the performer of an action.
ú  Use passive voice when you want to emphasize the receiver of an action.
Form of Passive Voice Verbs
  • The passive voice requires a "double verb" and will always consist of a form of the verb "to be" and the past participle (usually the "en/ed/t" form) of another verb.
  • Example:
                Active:  John baked the bread.
                Passive:  The bread was baked by John.  (Was is a form of the verb “be”.)
  • Writers should be familiar with the forms of "to be" , often called linking verbs, so that they can easily identify the passive voice in their work.
  • Review the forms of "to be":
ú  am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been
  • Note the forms of "to be" in the examples of the verb "to kick" in various forms of the passive voice:
  • is kicked----------------had been kicked
    was kicked-------------is going to be kicked
    is being kicked---------will be kicked
    has been kicked-------can be kicked
    was being kicked------should be kicked
  • Often passive voice sentences will contain a "by" phrase indicting who or what performed the action.
  •  Passive sentences can be easily transformed into active sentences when the object of the preposition "by" is moved to the subject position in the sentence.
  • Examples:
ú  Passive: The cookies were eaten by the children.
ú  Active: The children ate the cookies.
ú  Passive: The tunnels are dug by the gophers.
ú  Active: The gophers dug the tunnels.