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Active vs. Passive Voice Developed by Ivan Seneviratne.

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Presentation on theme: "Active vs. Passive Voice Developed by Ivan Seneviratne."— Presentation transcript:

1 Active vs. Passive Voice Developed by Ivan Seneviratne

2 Why should writers think about their verbs? Verbs are the most important of all your tools. They push the sentence forward and give it momentum. Active verbs push hard; passive verbs tug fitfully. -- William Zinsser, On Writing Well

3 What is Active Voice? In the Active voice, the subject performs the action. For example: Joseph draws a picture. Joseph is the subject and he is doing something (drawing).

4 When to use active voice Use active voice unless you are required or have very specific reasons for doing otherwise. Active voice generally leads to more concise writing. It clarifies who is performing the action. Remember: Staying active is a healthy practice, especially in your writing!

5 What is passive voice? In passive voice the subject is acted upon. For example: The picture was drawn by Joseph. In this case, the drawing is the subject and it is being acted upon by Joseph.

6 When to use passive voice Use passive voice when you do not wish to emphasize the subject of the sentence. Example: Smoking is prohibited. (passive) The management prohibits smoking. (active) The passive sentence takes attention away from management, so they do not have to be in the role of the bad guys.

7 Passive Voice (cond) Also use passive voice when you wish to emphasize what happened and the person or thing acting is unknown or unimportant. Example Poisonous gases were found in six factories. The use of passive emphasizes the finding of gases, not who found them. Note: Because passive voice often leads to awkward or wordy constructions, use passive voice sparingly and with good reason.

8 8 Overview Active Voice: Subject does the action Passive Voice: action happens to the subject. uses form of to be or am, is, are, was, were, being, been plus a past participle. A past participle is the ed form of regular verbs for irregular verbs: en, n, t There is no reason to stay here. This was the situation. It is sometimes hard to forgive. The boy was impressed by Ms. Jones.

9 Ivans Matrix Passive (be+V 4 ) SimpleProgressivePerfect Present am is + V 4 are am is +being+ V 4 are has +been+V 4 have Past was + V 4 were was +being+V 4 were had +been+V 4 Futurewill+be+V 4 **

10 Active vs. Passive (1) TENSEACTIVEPASSIVE Present Simple Jane writes the letter.The letter is written by Jane. Present Progressive Jane is writing the letter.The letter is being written by Jane. Present Perfect Jane has written the letter. The letter has been written by Jane.

11 Active vs. Passive (2) TENSEACTIVEPASSIVE Past Simple Jane wrote the letterThe letter was written by Jane Past Progress. Jane was writing the letterThe letter was being written by Jane Past Perfect Jane had written the letterThe letter had been written by Jane Simple Future Jane will write the letterThe letter will be written by Jane

12 Change the following sentences into passive 1.They have arrested him for shoplifting. 2.People in Chile speak Spanish. 3.They are repairing your car now. 4.Solar power drives this car. 5.The Chinese invented paper. He has been arrested for shoplifting. Spanish is spoken in Chile. Your car is being repaired now. This car is driven by solar power. Paper was invented by the Chinese.

13 6.They do not sell stamps in bookshops. 7.Somebody will tell you where to go. 8.Philip Kotler wrote the marketing management book. 9.The company has imported new computers from Japan. 10.The personnel manager is still considering your application. Stamps are not sold in bookshops. You will be told where to go. The marketing management book was written by Philip Kotler. New computers have been imported by the company from Japan Your application is still being considered by the personnel manager.

14 Summary Use active voice unless specified otherwise. Make sure the subject is acting and not being acted upon. Use the verb form of words with suffixes Place subjects in front of the action they perform (this often eliminates to be verbs) Avoid to be forms of verbs

15 This presentation is developed by Ivan Seneviratne © 2007 purely for personal use.


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