Unit 1 Article 9 - Passive Voice

Unit 1 Article 9 - Passive Voice - PASSIVE VOICE What this...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
PASSIVE VOICE What this handout is about This handout will help you understand what the passive voice is, why many professors and writing instructors frown upon it, and how you can revise your paper to achieve greater clarity. Some things here may surprise you. We hope this handout will help you to understand the passive voice and allow you to make more informed choices as you write. Myths So what is the passive voice? First, let's be clear on what the passive voice isn't. Below, we'll list some common myths about the passive voice: 1. Use of the passive voice constitutes a grammatical error. Use of the passive voice is not a grammatical error. It's a stylistic issue that pertains to clarity— that is, there are times when using the passive voice can prevent a reader from understanding what you mean. 2. Any use of "to be" (in any form) constitutes the passive voice. The passive voice entails more than just using a being verb. Using "to be" can weaken the impact of your writing, but it is occasionally necessary and does not by itself constitute the passive voice. 3. The passive voice always avoids the first person; if something is in first person ("I" or "we") it's also in the active voice. On the contrary, you can very easily use the passive voice in the first person. Here's an example: "I was hit by the dodgeball." 4. You should never use the passive voice. While the passive voice can weaken the clarity of your writing, there are times when the passive voice is OK and even preferable. 5. I can rely on my grammar checker to catch the passive voice. See Myth #1. Since the passive voice isn't a grammar error, it's not always caught. Typically, grammar checkers catch only a fraction of passive voice usage. Do any of these misunderstandings sound familiar? If so, you're not alone. That's why we wrote this handout. It discusses how to recognize the passive voice, when you should avoid it, and when it's OK. Defining the passive voice
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
A passive construction occurs when you make the object of an action into the subject of a sentence. That is, whoever or whatever is performing the action is not the grammatical subject of the sentence. Take a look at this passive rephrasing of a familiar joke: Why was the road crossed by the chicken? Who is doing the action in this sentence? The chicken is the one doing the action in this sentence, but the chicken is not in the spot where you would expect the grammatical subject to be. Instead, the road is the grammatical subject. The more familiar phrasing (why did the chicken cross the road?) puts the actor in the subject position, the position of doing something—the chicken (the actor/doer) crosses the road (the object). We use active verbs to represent that "doing," whether it be crossing roads, proposing ideas, making arguments, or invading houses (more on that shortly). Once you know what to look for, passive constructions are easy to spot. Look for a form of "to
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 12/06/2011 for the course GBS 26479 taught by Professor Ouzts during the Fall '11 term at Mesa CC.

Page1 / 6

Unit 1 Article 9 - Passive Voice - PASSIVE VOICE What this...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online