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Active and Passive Voice UWF Writing Lab Grammar Mini-Lesson’s Series #2 Defining “Voice” • “Voice” is a characteristic of verbs which indicates the relation of the verb’s action to its subject. • The voice of a verb may be either “active” or “passive.” Active Voice • Active voice verbs are used when the subject is acting in a sentence. • Example: – Cindy steered the boat. • “Steered” is an active verb because it allows the subject to undertake an action. Passive Voice • “Passive voice” verbs are used when the subject is being acted upon in a sentence. • Example: – The mountain’s peak was reached by Ed Danvers. • “Was reached” are considered passive because they indicate that the subject (peak) is receiving an action. So What? • Although both constructions are grammatically correct, the active voice is usually more effective in academic and business writing because it is simpler and more direct. The passive construction is effective only when the doer of the action is unknown or irrelevant. Examples – The cruiseliner was hijacked. – The ball was hit. – The town was quarantined. Review • Active voice verbs: Verbs that indicate the sentence’s subject as actively acting: – Marvin hit the ball. • Passive voice verbs: Verbs that indicated the sentence’s subject as being acted upon: – The ball was hit by Marvin Any Questions??? Quiz Decide which of the following sentences use the passive voice and which sentences use the active voice. Correct the sentences that contain either inappropriate uses of passive voice or an abrupt shift from active to passive voice. Example: -Before I began my research, only German fascism was studied by me. Passive construction -Before I began my research, I only studied German fascism. Professor Warren assigned each group a research project; however, the documentary sources were not located. Incorrect Active-Passive Shift Professor Warren assigned each group a research project; however, he could not locate the documentary sources. For the opening flag ceremony, a dance was choreographed by Kema Jones to Bill Withers’ song “Lean on Me.” Passive Construction For the opening flag ceremony, Kema Jones choreographed a dance to Bill Withers’ song “Lean on Me.” When the tickets are ready, the travel agent notifies the client. Each ticket is then listed on a daily register form, and a copy of the itinerary is filed. Incorrect Active-Passive Shift When the tickets are ready, the travel agent notifies the client. The agent then lists the ticket on a daily register form and files a copy of the itinerary. Seismologists have examined data concerning the recent earthquake, and reports will be filed. Incorrect Active-Passive Shift Seismologists have examined data concerning the recent earthquake, and they will file reports. Problems of famine, pollution, dwindling resources, and arms control were discussed by the senator. - Passive construction The senator discussed problems of famine, pollution, dwindling resources, and arms control. • Whenever an error was found by Mrs. Clark, the entire paper had to be rewritten by the student. Passive Construction Whenever an error was found by Mrs. Clark, the student had to rewrite the entire paper.
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