1. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Examples of Passive Verbs

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Justin Rocket 2, Aug 20, 2016.

    I want this thread to be a collection of passive verbs. Passive verbs are usually a good indicator that someone is telling rather than showing and having those verbs identified in one place could be helpful to new writers.

    Below are some and if you can think of any more, please add them

    is, was, were, are am, be, seem, realize, think, thought, wonder
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay... how are you defining "passive verbs"? How are you defining "telling" vs. "showing"?

    And, for any new writers who are possibly going to consult this list - please be aware that all the verbs mentioned in the OP are just fine. If they're the best word for the job you want them to do, they're the word you should be using.
     
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  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    :/
     
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  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    .....no.
     
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  5. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    As @BayView mentioned, this is a perfect example of those lists that could be extremely damaging to new writers who may or may not have any confidence in what they are doing.

    I'm still a relatively new writer and just learning to filter all of this kind of information in a way that will actually benefit me in the long run.

    @Justin Rocket: I think you meant this in a totally altruistic way. And that's nice of you. However, I humbly suggest that maybe you take some time to truly explore the details. When to use and not use these verbs, examples, explanations of how they work and what purpose they can have. Highlight both sides of using these words rather than condemning them as verbs to avoid.

    And if you're not equipped to do that (and I'm not either), this post may do more harm than good.
     
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  6. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    Oh wow... I find this thread disturbing and all things wrong about writing forums when someone throws up a post as if they are an authority on writing. I hope new writers read this and not just believe every word because someone decides to post it.

    I'd say this would become quite a shit forum with bad advice. I feel pretty strong about this because of the number of new writers I encounter who preach the show and not tell rule like the universe was built on it. I always think these poor people are misguided.

    *Shaking my head*
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2016
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  7. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    A verb is in the passivevoice when the subject of the sentence is acted on by the verb. For example, in “The ball was thrown by the pitcher,” the ball (the subject) receives the action of the verb, and was thrown is in the passive voice. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_passive_voice

    Show, don't tell is a technique often employed in various kinds of texts to enable the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the author's exposition, summarization, and description.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Show,_don%27t_tell

    I could have sworn I said, "Passive verbs are usually a good indicator that someone is telling" NOT "never use these words." *scrolls back up* Yep, that's what I said. *Checks definition of 'usually'* Yep, I stand by my statement. It is just a tool to help find problem sentences, not a dictate from on high. No tool can ever be used without a writer's intuition.

    Now, kindly climb down out of my ass.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 20, 2016
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  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes. This is the passive voice.

    It has nothing do with the list of verbs you gave in your OP. There's no such thing as "passive verbs".

    And passive voice really doesn't have anything to do with "showing" or "telling".

    And what is the advantage of "showing"? When is it appropriate, and when is "telling" a better option?

    Well, I don't think it has to be intuition. I think a totally rational decision can be made about what words to use. But the decision should really be based on actual knowledge, not half-digested bits of pop-writing nonsense.

    ETA: Also, and especially on a writers' site, it's good to avoid plagiarism. Give a citation for the source of your definitions so it's clear you're borrowing someone else's words.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  9. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Passive voice and passive verbs aren't the same thing.

    Partially because I'm pretty sure passive verbs aren't ... a thing.

    Going off what you're outlining here, any verb can be passive (which fits my understanding). But the so-called passive verbs you've listed in your op can be active - eg "She [subject] realized [verb] that there was no one there" (eta: "the realization came upon her that ..." would be passive, I think? tired). Some verbs aren't considered 'strong', like forms of to be (is am are was were be being been), but 'weak' and 'passive' aren't the same thing and there's no definitive list of 'weak' verbs, which absolutely have their place and aren't to be strictly avoided.

    I'm very tired and grumpy today but I'm sorry, this thread's intended purpose is not helpful and can only serve to confuse and mislead newer writers.
     
  10. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    But there are verbs which are more likely to be used in passive sentences.

    I'm going to have to disagree with that. Showing is less likely to be used in passive sentences.

    Showing usually slows down the pace and creates a more immersive experience. But, an author doesn't want to slow down the pace all the time. When writing a mystery, for example, it probably isn't necessary to slow down the pace to describe the hero deciding what to wear for the day.

    Sure, I'll do that right after I post this.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Passive voice should be recognized by recognizing passive voice, not by a list of verbs. The list of verbs just encourages misunderstanding.

    The idea that "showing" and "telling" can be recognized by a list of verbs encourages a deeper misunderstanding.

    It's like encouraging dieters to avoid having ceramic dishes in their kitchen because mixing bowls are often ceramic and baked goods are often made using mixing bowls and baked goods are often fattening.
     
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  12. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's generally some version of the verb "to be" in a passive sentence.

    But there's also some version of "to be" in a million other sentences. It's a very common verb, for very good reason.

    And there's absolutely no connection between realize, think, thought, and wonder and passive voice.

    What are you basing this on?
     
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  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    And, of course, there are many, many times when using the passive voice is a good thing.

    Aargh.
     
  14. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Nevertheless, it is good to check one's use of 'to be' and ensure that you don't have a passive sentence when you don't intend to have one.

    My own experience as a writer critiquing other people's stuff and rewriting my own.
     
  15. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    I NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER said it was always a bad thing.
     
  16. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    When you've got a stack of pages to review, knocking out 80% of the problems with handy tools is a massive time saver. If you come across something using the tool I mentioned and you don't know how to handle it, then just highlight it and move on. You can always come back when you do a deeper critique.
     
  17. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    But what's the point of making a thread about how to (mis)-identify the passive voice, and commenting about "problem sentences" if passive voice isn't actually a problem?
     
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  18. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    ? Yeah, I'd disagree with that. Too much telling and usage of passive voice are both issues newbies are likely to make simultaneously, but there's no correlation between the two. I can just as easily write "She was excited" (a valid sentence, but one that's entirely telling and active) as "A wave of excitement almost physically bowled her over" (passive voice [right? I'm bad at this] but more showy).

    But you started a thread to log examples of passive voice (/ passive verbs which again aren't a thing) so that newbies can avoid them?? Cool, I'm going to bed, have a good one.

    edit: I googled "passive voice" because I honestly am bad at identifying / writing in it and the first result was this:

    Just seemed relevant.
     
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  19. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Because telling when you intend to be showing (or vice versa) is a problem.
     
  20. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    But you don't even know what passive voice is. I mean, you cut and pasted from Wikipedia about it, but your initial post makes it clear you don't actually know what it is. So... sorry, but your personal experience isn't going to count for much on this one.

    I'm sorry if this is coming across as harsh or aggressive, but there really aren't that many simple rules for making writing better. There aren't many (any?) lists a new author can consult and then go on to improve her writing. Making posts that sound definitive when they're actually gibberish is not a good thing.
     
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  21. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    cut and paste from Wikipedia because it was easy.
    My list has been misinterpreted to be some kind of dictate from on high. I said it wasn't. Tools aren't a bad thing as long as they are used with the writer's intuition.
     
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  22. sahlmi
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    sahlmi Active Member

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    Justin, count me as one person that understood your intended meaning wo the semantics.
    Yes, you probably could have phrased the subject a bit clearer and yes, the words you listed are fine in general. Still, I understand what you were trying to say and 100% agree with the intended meaning and yes, it is something beginners should be wary of--especially beginners.

    Seems like people will find any excuse to just ignore any advice and write how you want, but I don't see how that's progressive. There are certain "rules" that are definitely good to know, then one can become discerning enough to form his own rules. But "do anything you want because it's all too confusing" just ain't it.

    I've seen enough of this here and I think I've had enough. It was sort of fun while it lasted, but I'm outta here.
     
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  23. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's too bad you're leaving, but in case you haven't left... what was the useful rule you found in the first post? (genuine question, not rhetorical)
     
  24. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    So maybe you should stop doing what's easy and try to actually figure it out for yourself. Because there's very little correlation between your list of "passive verbs" in your OP and your definition of "passive voice" as pasted from Wikipedia.

    So can you clarify - what's the tool, and how do you expect it to be used?
     
  25. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    I think the point is that new writers don't really have a developed writer's intuition. So it would be hard for them to consult said intuition. Without the intuition, these lists/posts damage the ego of new writers. I can say from personal experience, I was, at one point, quite literally crippled by such lists/rules BECAUSE I didn't have a developed writer's intuition.

    So I'll restate what I originally said. Why don't you apply some context to your original post? That would make this actually helpful rather than harmful.
     
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