1. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Question about active vs passive voice

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by waitingforzion, Jan 19, 2015.

    Which of the following two sentences more faithfully follows the elements of style, and is to be preferred by a reader?

    There was a treasure in the valley.
    The valley concealed a treasure.
     
  2. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    I don't feel like you need to the word "a" in either of them.

    There was treasure in the valley.
    The valley concealed treasure.

    I like the first one more, I think people will be split on this if you don't get in trouble for creating yet another thread.
     
  3. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    I was just asking a question about mechanics, not posting anything for critique. I posted another critique just now and hope to soon post in the writer's workshop.
     
  4. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    Well, I answered your question. Sorry if I critiqued it too, but I really do think the word "a" is cumbersome there so I'm going to say that.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The question is too open-ended and depends on context. It cannot be answered. Both sentences are syntactically correct, but they each emphasize a different part of the sentence. The first puts a shadow on valley, lessening it's importance. Both, by the way, are active voice. Do not let the was fool you. In the first sentence, there serves as a placeholder (or dummy) subject; thus, it has a grammatical subject and is active voice, as is the second sentence.
     
  6. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Technically neither of theses is passive voice. But "concealed" is an active verb that the first sentence does not have, so the second sentence would be more active.
     
  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Context is key. The was stresses a point - There was a treasure in the valley. By keeping the word treasure in the front of the sentence that could be what you want the reader to notice first. The fact that there is treasure in the valley.

    If you use the second sentence - The valley concealed treasure - by keeping the word treasure at the end and by using concealed, your focus could be that you want the fact that it's hidden to be in the readers mind the most.

    It's not really the arrangement that the reader is interested in ( they'll notice only because it makes the context clear ) - it's all in the meaning. You need to understand your meaning first and then arrange the sentence according to meaning.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2015
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I like the 'concealed' one best, because it's intriguing. The reader will want to find out what this treasure is, and why it's hidden. Concealed is a very loaded and effective word. "Was" is just ...meh.

    This is taken totally out of context, though. If the treasure exists openly, and everybody knows about it, then 'concealed' isn't appropriate.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Neither of these are passive voice. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with either one; I'd need context to pick one.
     

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