Grammar Active and Passive Voice Voice Voice is the form a transitive verb takes to indicate whether the subject of the verb performs or receives the action. When the subject of a verb performs the action, the verb is in the active voice. When the subject of a verb receives the action, the verb is in passive voice. A verb in the active voice has a direct object, which tells who or what receives the action; a verb in the passive voice does NOT have a direct object. A verb in the passive voice may or may not be followed by a prepositional phrase that begins with by and tells who or what performs the action. Examples Active: The blazing fire destroyed the outside walls. Passive: The outside walls were destroyed by the blazing fire. Passive: The outside walls were destroyed. Active: She grows corn on her farm. Passive: Corn is grown on her farm. A verb in passive voice is ALWAYS a verb phrase that consists of a form of the verb be and the past participle of a verb. THE PASSIVE VOICE SHOULD BE USED SPARINGLY!! Use the passive voice when you want to emphasize the receiver of the action. The mayor was reelected by a landslide. Use passive voice when you don’t know or don’t want to reveal the performer of the action. Vicious rumors have been spread about the politician. Exercise: Identifying Verbs in Active and Passive Voices Identify the verb in each of the following sentences as active or passive. If the verb is in passive voice, revise the sentences so that the verb is in the active voice. Example: We were shown by our art teacher some prints of Lucia Wilcox’s artwork. Passive—Our art teacher showed us some prints of Lucia Wilcox’s artwork. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. The paintings of Lucia Wilcox are admired by many artists around the world. Her blindness during her last years made her final works particularly interesting. She was befriended and taught by Raoul Dufy, Fernand Leger, Robert Motherwell, and Jackson Pollock. Her paintings have been shown often in gallery exhibits around the world. She lost her eyesight suddenly, though not unexpectedly. Her blindness was caused by a tumor near the optic nerve. According to Wilcox, after losing her vision, she had better sight than anyone else. Her vision and her mind were described by her as free of “static” and “distractions.” Because of her blindness, her style and subject matter were altered from energetic silhouettes to larger canvases in lush colors. Her style was imitated by many well-known artists. Exercise: Using the Passive Voice Rewrite any of the following sentences that contain awkward passive-voice constructions. If you think a sentence is best the way it is, write C and be prepared to explain your answer. Example: My car was serviced by Tom, my favorite mechanic. Tom, my favorite mechanic, serviced my car. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. According to the editorial, the city’s surplus money was wasted by inefficient politicians. My home was damaged by a tornado recently. The right-rear tire must have been punctured by a nail in the driveway. The bridge was damaged by rushing water. The classroom computer was stolen over the weekend. While I was away visiting my cousins in Nebraska, my cat was fed by my neighbor. My sleep was interrupted by loud, bass-heavy music from our neighbors’ part. The president’s failure to be reelected was caused by sudden economic downturn. The farmer’s crops were destroyed by drought back in the 1980s. The book was read by them. Exercise: Revising Sentences in the Passive Voice Revise the following sentences by changing the verbs from the passive voice to the active voices wherever you think the changes are desirable. If you think the passive voice is preferable, write C. For each verb, be prepared to explain why you think the active or passive voice is preferable. Example: An interesting legend about the origin of the kachinas was told to us by one of the participants in the Hopi ceremonial dance. One of the participants in the Hopi ceremonial dance told us an interesting legend about the origin of the kachinas. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. After all of the new computers had been installed by the service representatives, a training session was given to us by them. If the children had been enchanted by Mr. Wright’s tales before, they would be even more enthralled by his new story of a fantasy kingdom on the moon. A meeting was held by the area homeowners to discuss the landfill project that had been proposed by the city council. The value of storytelling is explained in an ancient Seneca myth. While the decorations are being created by Clarence, the buffet will be prepared by Edna. Potatoes had been cultivated in South America for more than twenty centuries before they were grown in Europe. The 1539 expedition of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was guided by Estevanico, a well-known black explorer. The chapters on constitutional amendments, which had been assigned to us last week by Mrs. Robinson, were reviewed by us before the test. Shinae Chun is admired and respected by her colleagues. If the practicality of home robots had been demonstrated by Mike Smith, his request for funding would not have been rejected by the review committee.