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passive voice

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steve grundmeier

on 30 May 2013

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Transcript of passive voice

Passive Voice Change from active to passive:

Active: Many teachers believe that an education in the arts develops sensitivity.

Passive: It is believed that an education in the arts develops sensitivity. / An education
in the arts is believed to develop sensitivity. Let’s practice! Which sentence is more effective? Why?
Active: Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, claimed that the imagination is the link to our innermost feelings.
Passive: It is claimed that the imagination is the link to our innermost feelings. / Imagination is believed to be the link to our innermost feelings.

This sentence is better in the active voice because it is a belief attributed to a specific and very important person. Putting the sentence in the passive is possible but
weakens its overall meaning by leaving out the agent. Let’s practice! Which sentence is more effective? Why?
Active: The orchestra will have to dismiss many musicians beginning next week.
Passive:It is said that many musicians will be dismissed beginning next week.

This sentence is better in the impersonal passive because this format distances the writer from any direct responsibility and because there is no official source for this statement. Let’s practice! Which sentence is more effective? Why?
Active: Many people say that the arts are essential parts of a child’s education.
Passive: It is said that the arts are essential parts of a child’s education.

The passive sentence is more effective in the impersonal passive voice because the agent (“many people”) is very vague. Let’s practice! The passive voice creates a distance between the writer and the idea being communicated.
That impersonal distance is the reason why the passive is preferred for reporting the ideas of others.
The writing is reporting on something without adding his or her personal views, creating a sense of objectivity and impartiality. Reporting Ideas and Facts Active or Passive?

The students completed the
lab report on time. Quiz Time! Which sentence is more effective? Why?
Active: Many teachers believe that an education in the arts develops sensitivity.
Passive: It is believed that an education in the arts develops sensitivity. / An education in the arts is believed to develop sensitivity.

This sentence can be in the impersonal passive because it is not necessary to identify the agent. This general thought could be a universal truth. Let’s practice! Which sentence is more effective? Why?

Active: Many teachers believe that an education in the arts develops sensitivity.

Passive: It is believed that an education in the arts develops sensitivity. / An education in the arts is believed to develop sensitivity. Let’s practice! Change from active to passive:

Many teachers believe that an education
in the arts develops sensitivity. Let’s practice! Which sentence is more effective? Why?

Active: Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, claimed that the imagination is the link to our innermost feelings.
Passive: It is claimed that the imagination is the link to our innermost feelings. / Imagination is believed to be the link to our innermost feelings. Let’s practice! Change from active to passive:

Active: Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, claimed that the imagination is the link to our innermost feelings.
Passive: It is claimed that the imagination is the link to our innermost feelings. / Imagination is believed to be the link to our innermost feelings. Let’s practice! Change from active to passive:

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, claimed that the imagination is the link to our
innermost feelings. Let’s practice! Which sentence is more effective? Why?

Active: The orchestra will have to dismiss many musicians beginning next week.

Passive: It is said that many musicians will be dismissed beginning next week. Let’s practice! Change from active to passive:

Active: The orchestra will have to dismiss many musicians beginning next week.
Passive: It is said that many musicians will be dismissed beginning next week. Let’s practice! Which sentence is more effective? Why?
Active: The government decided to give money to the school creative arts program.
Passive: It was decided to give money to the school creative arts program.

This sentence is better in the active voice because it expresses a specific fact and not a general truth. Let’s practice! Which sentence is more effective? Why?

Active: The government decided to give money to the school creative arts program.

Passive: It was decided to give money to the school creative arts program. Let’s practice! Change from active to passive:

Active: The government decided to give money to the school creative arts program.

Passive: It was decided to give money to the school creative arts program. Let’s practice! Change from active to passive:

The government decided to give
money to the school creative arts program. Let’s practice! Which sentence is more effective? Why?

Active: Many people say that the arts are essential parts of a child’s education.

Passive: It is said that the arts are essential parts of a child’s education. Let’s practice! Change from active to passive:

Active: Many people say that the arts are essential parts of a child’s education.

Passive: It is said that the arts are essential parts of a child’s education. Let’s practice! Believe
Claim
Know
Suggest Think
Consider
Regard
Say
Allege Verbs Commonly Used Subject + passive form of the verb + to be
Music is said to be an international language.
(subject) (passive form of verb)
Musical compositions are said to be included in
(plural subject) (passive form of verb)
the box found in the composer’s attic.
It + passive form of the verb + that
It is said that music is an international
(passive form of verb)
language. Commonly Used Structures Grammar Tip: When you don’t need “by.”

Because the writer is not interested in identifying the specific agent responsible for this statement, he or she uses the passive voice without by or an agent.

In this example, “music is said to be an international language” has become a universal truth, and it is not necessary to identify the agent (“by many people,” or “by great musicians,” or “by experts,” and so on). Reporting Ideas and Facts Using the passive voice relieves the writer of a certain amount of direct responsibility for what is said. For this reason, it is often used in reporting the news when the source of the news is not clear or cannot be told. Using the passive to switch focus Using the passive voice shifts the reader’s focus to the thing being done or the process being described, rather than to the subject (the person or thing doing the action).
For this reason, in academic writing and scientific description, the passive voice is often used.
However, if there is no specific reason to use the passive, the active voice is preferred in English. Using the passive to switch focus Many people say that music is an international language.
Music is said to be an international language.
It is said that music is an international language.

Which sentences are in the active voice and which are in the passive voice?
In the second and third sentences, who says music is an international language?
Is there a difference in meaning
among the three sentences? Examine the following sentences Change from active to passive:

The orchestra will have to dismiss many musicians beginning next week. Let’s practice! Change from active to passive:

Many people say that the arts are
essential parts of a child’s education. Let’s practice! Impersonal distance: Music is said to be an international language.
Greater impersonal distance: It is said that music is an international language. Reporting Ideas and Facts Examples:
Active: An observer said that the soldiers came from Sarajevo.
Passive: It was said that the soldiers came from Sarajevo. Using the passive to switch focus Examples:
Active: A craftsman dried and varnished the wood for the cello.

Passive: The wood for the cello was dried and varnished. Using the passive to switch focus Active or Passive?

The students completed the
lab report on time. Quiz Time! Active or Passive?

The vocabulary quiz was taken
by the students on Friday. Quiz Time! Active or Passive?

The students devoured
the delicious candy. Quiz Time! Their lengths are different.
Active Sentences: More concise
The students considered topics for the next essay. (8 words)
Passive Sentences: Wordier
Topics for the next essay are being considered by the students. (11 words) Active and Passive Sentences:
What’s the difference? They differ in directness.
Active Sentences: Direct
Their friends often take them to interesting places.
Passive Sentences: Indirect
They are often taken to interesting places by their friends. Active and Passive Sentences:
What’s the difference? The meaning is different.
Active Sentences: The subject of the sentence performs the action.
The student wrote the essay.
Passive Sentences: The subject receives the action.
The essay is being written by the student. Active and Passive Sentences:
What’s the difference? Active or Passive?

The chocolate was eaten
by the fifth period class. Quiz Time! To shift focus

To report ideas and facts Why use the passive voice?
Full transcript