Active vs. Passive 1301 English Comp Expresses an Action Occurrence State of Being Reveal when something occurs The present The past The future Main verbs indicate Link subject with State of being Condition One or more words that rename or describe the subject (subject complement). Is like an equal sign between a subject and its complement. Quick Reference 15.2-15.3/page 312-313 Regular Past tense and past participle Adding –ed or –d Irregular Don’t consistently add –ed or –d Sing, sang, sung Cost, cost, cost Grow, grew, grown Quick Reference 15.4/pages 316-318 Combine with main verbs to make verb phrases. Quick Reference 15.5/page 319 Main Auxiliary (helping) verbs Be Do Have Quick Reference 15.6-7/pages 320-321 More than any other part of speech, it is the verb that determines whether a writer is a wimp or a wizard. Emphasizes the DOER of an action, active constructions are more direct and dramatic. Require fewer words than passive constructions. Page 333 – S&S HB Another way to tone up prose is to eliminate what’s known as “the passive voice,” in which the subject of a sentence is being acted upon-by an agent named elsewhere in the sentence or left ambiguous--rather than taking the action directly. Proper Uses When the does is unknown. When the action is more important than the doer. (page 334) Deleting IS and ARE does not suffice. Don’t replace versions of “to be” with just any verbs. Be inventive! “She walks through the house” wins points over “she is inside,” But why “walks” when the choices include paces, skips, and skedaddles? Why settle for a verb like says when wail, whisper, and insist are waiting to be heard? The form of an active verb ending in -ing or -ed is known as a participle onrushing water punishing waves shifting mountains of water twenty-foot splitting tubes a rocky, waterfall-threaded scree the first wall of sandy, grumbling white-water pulverizing force a swift, swooping, surefooted ride a vicious, ledging wave the final, jacking section a long, tapering, darkening wall the glassy, rumbling, peagreen wall a maelstrom of dredging, midsized waves the thick, pouring, silverbeaded curtain In speaking and informal writing, We naturally gravitate to “to be” in all its incarnations-present tense and past, active voice and passive. A reliance on “to be” is a sure sign of a novice A dependence on IS and its family screams "rough draft” The best writers, during the many revisions they put every piece through, go back and scrub out every unnecessary IS and ARE. A first-cousin sin of IS is BEING. Nine times out of ten, when BEING appears, it makes for an error; the remaining time, it's probably extraneous. Almost any sentence can be made active. Take this passive line: The hair dresser was being ogled by the guy whose hair was being snipped. See how easy it is to straighten out this tangle of attentions: The guy getting a haircut couldn't take his eyes off his hair dresser. The passive voice often crops up intentionally, When the writer or speaker wants to blur the relationship between the person committing an action (the "agent") and the action. It gets them off the hook. "mistakes were made" President Reagan Later when in real trouble - "serious mistakes were made." The Great Communicator never did say who made the mistakes or whether his policy was flawed. Such intentional dodges are harder to make active because the agent (the person who took the action) is AWOL. The passive voice does exist for a reason. Sometimes its the best way to say something Headlines - "1-580 killer convicted" is passive but better than its active rewrite "Jury convicts 1-580 killer” What do you think? Did the public care aboutthe jury's role, or the fact that a notorious slaughterer got the slammer? If you want to keep the focus on a particular subject, you may want to keep that person the subject of the sentence, using the passive voice if necessary to do so. Does, get, go, has, put, are (technically) dynamic verbs, They add almost nothing to a sentence. Turn "he has a plan to" into "he plans to.” Turn "the team had ten losses" into "the team lost ten games. Turn "an accident occurred that damaged my car" into "that teenager bashed my Ferrari.” Turn "her speech caused me to blush" into "Hearing so many compliments, I blushed." Have you ever pondered those verbs that everyone uses but that make no sense? Revolve around, for example, and its cousin center around usually mark desperate attempts by unimaginative reporters to sound good. Don't pass over strong single words, such as break, stop, spoil, kill, In favor of phrases made of a noun or adjective tacked on to some general-purpose verb: make contact with - use call, fax, or email exhibit a tendency to - tend to come to an agreement on - agree to cause an investigation to be made with a view to ascertaining - find out will take steps - will does not see his way to - will not is not in a position to - cannot is prepared to inform you - will tell you Rather than to access - try to view to author; to write to finalize; to finish to impact; to touch to input; to enter to interface; to talk to prioritize; to reorganize to obsolete; to outpace or to supersede Verbs also enter the language through backformation, the process that gave us “to rob” from “robber;” “to beg” from “beggar” “to diagnose” from “diagnosis” “to babysit” from “babysitter.” They can range from the ugly (burgle, from burglar) to the awkward (televise, from television) to the downright dastardly, like enthuse, liaise, and attrit ("our air strike will attrit their armor"). Just because a verb descends from a legitimate noun does not give it a proper pedigree.