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  1. Wharton16

    Wharton16 New Member

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    Passive Voice

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Wharton16, Sep 27, 2011.

    I don't know if anyone else has this problem, but when I am writing and I think it looks and sounds ok, my grammar checker kicks in and tells me "passive voice consider revising" . So I sit scratching my head while I consider revising. I juggle the sentence around taking words out and putting em back in until it's just the same as it was. :)

    Is there ever a time when the passive voice is acceptable in writing? I so try not to use it, but sometimes it's very difficult.

    Grace.
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Passive voice can be used effectively, and it is acceptable to use it when you wish to. The problem is that many writers lapse into using it unconsciously, and that usually is not good.

    As for grammar checkers in MS Word or other programs, I turn them off :)
     
  3. Wharton16

    Wharton16 New Member

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    Hm, interesting Steerpike. I guess I'm of the latter kind, I use it unconsciously from time to time.
    And I reckon I will turn my checker off too. It's becoming a nag. Lol.
     
  4. Lightman

    Lightman Active Member

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    Examples of good uses of the passive voice:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
     
  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd say that there are two issues here:

    1) When passive voice is fine and when it's a bad idea.
    2) Whether you're actually dealing with passive voice at all. Grammar checkers _very_ frequently make the wrong diagnosis.

    Can you offer us some examples of what the grammar checker is complaining about?

    ChickenFreak
     
  6. madhoca

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sometimes it is better to use active rather than passive voice. It can make your writing more direct and dynamic. Sometimes. However, the spellcheck is only a machine.

    It doesn't know that:

    "Dear God! He is besotted by the girl."

    makes better sense than:

    "Dear God! The girl besots him."

    That's why it says consider revising.

    Also, I know I'm generalising, but British writers tend to use passives a bit more than Americans, so it's partly a matter of what is acceptable and comfortable for your readers.
     
  7. lostinwebspace

    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Passive voice is usually a problem because it puts the focus on the recipient of the action and not the doer, and sometimes the doer isn't even present. This makes the sentence wordier and slower than it needs to be and misplaces the focus of the sentence. As it was said, passive has its place. Maybe the recipient needs the attention or maybe there is no doer. ("Mistakes were made.") It's up to you if passive is what you need but, as people will warn, be careful with it.

    I like them, but I they're probably about 80% falliable. They suck, but sometimes they prove me wrong. Hey, if they save me from even a few errors (and they have), I'm happy. And I've learned to ignore those awful green squiggly lines.
     
  8. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Passive voice can be used effectively to surround a more intense passages with lower key passages for a greater contrast.
     

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