Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lesson 56: Transforming Sentences using Active / Passive Voice

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Sentences that are in the active voice (those that have transitive verbs and object) can generally be transformed into passive voice sentences.


Whenever you choose to write a sentence in the active or the passive voice, you are exercising a stylistic option that affects the words in the same sentence as well as the relationship between that sentence and the other sentence.

You should regularly use the active voice for it is more forceful and direct of the two. The passive voice can be effective however, if used sparingly and for specific stylistic purposes. Scientific, technical, and academic fields usually choose the passive voice because it gives emphasis on the action.

Predicates in the active voice show their subjects acting or existing.
Predicates in the passive voice show their subjects being acted upon.


Active:

  • Thousands of people greeted the winning team.


Passive:

  • The winning team was greeted by thousands of people.


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To generate a passive sentence, we begin a sentence with a direct object. We either delete the original subjects or move it to the end of the sentence with by before it. When we put the direct object in the subject slot, substitute the past participle form of the verb, and add a form of be as auxilliary to the past participle.


Active:

  • The enemies blew up the bridge.
  • The bridge was blown up. ( 'was' - a form of "be" that was added to the past participle "BLOWN").

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Other Examples:

Active:

  • Millions of viewers witnessed the player's tantrum.

Passive:

  • The player's tantrum was witnessed by millions of viewers.

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Active:

  • The farmer who uses a good fertilizer, will harvest a good crop.

Passive:

  • A good crop will be harvested by the farmer if he uses a good fertilizer.

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Active:

  • The English and Social Science departments produced our town.

Passive:

  • Our town was produced by the English and Social Science departments.

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Exercise:



Change to Passive:

  • The cheers of the audience encouraged the contestants.

Change to Active:

  • The gift was given to her.

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~end of lesson~

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