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Unit 5 Part 8: Active and Passive Voice

 

Name ____________________________________                        Date ____________ 

Score on Active and Passive Voice_________

In Part 8, we will examine active and passive voice.

 

Active and Passive Voice :

An active voice sentence has an agent or “doer” of the action, followed by the action itself, and the object is optional. In a passive voice sentence, the doer of the action is no longer the subject of the sentence; the doer of the action may not even be named in the sentence. Instead the object of the active voice sentence becomes the subject in a passive voice sentence. What was done, rather than who did it, is emphasized in a passive voice sentence. Because the order of the subject, verb, and object indicates whether a sentence is in active or passive voice, both active and passive voice can be analyzed in terms of the first sentence pattern, S  +  V  +  [O]. Compare the active and passive voice sentences that follow.

 

S  +

V  +

[O]

 

The technical writer

wrote

the report.

(active)

The report

was written.

 

(passive)

The red squirrel

chased and bit

the albino squirrel.

(active)

The albino squirrel

was chased and bitten.

 

(passive)

The opera singer

sang

the aria.

(active)

The aria

was sung.

 

(passive)

 

The addition of left branching, embedded, or right branching elements does not affect whether or not a sentence is active or passive. It is the order of the subject, verb, and object that determines the voice of a sentence. Compare the active and passive voice sentences that follow, all of which fit the second sentence pattern, S  +  V  +  [O]  ______.

 

S  +

V  +

[O]  +

______

 

The technical writer

wrote

the report

in record time.

(active)

The report

was written

 

by the technical writer.

(passive)

The red squirrel

chased and bit

the albino squirrel

in a fit of pique.

(active)

The albino squirrel

was chased and bitten

 

by the red squirrel.

(passive)

The opera singer

sang

the aria

for the audience.

(active)

The aria

was sung

 

by the opera singer.

(passive)

 

To form the passive voice:

1.     Make the receiver of the action in the active voice sentence the subject.

Active voice:                    S  +  V  +  O

To make passive:              S  +  V  +  [O]

Passive voice:                   S [used to be O]  +  V

2.      Use the past participle of the verb with the helping verb was or were as the main verb in the sentence.

3.     Identifying the “doer” is optional. If you decide to identify the doer of the action, it will follow the verb as the object of the preposition by (by the technical writer, by the red squirrel, by the opera singer).

Notice that when you move from active to passive voice the emphasis shifts from who did it to what was done. Therefore, whenever who did it is not important, or when you don’t know who did it, you will use the passive voice. Many technical and business reports and scientific publications make extensive use of passive voice because their writers want the emphasis to be on what was done (the results) rather than on who did it. Many people think passive voice is more objective than active voice.

 


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