Presentation on theme: "Point of View in Writing and the Active/Passive Voice Adopted from College Writing Skills by John Langan, Purdue OWL, and The Bedford Handbook for Writers."— Presentation transcript:
1Point of View in Writing and the Active/Passive Voice Adopted from College Writing Skills by John Langan, Purdue OWL, and The Bedford Handbook for Writers by Diana HackerPoint of ViewWhen you write, you can take any of three approaches, or points of view: first-person, second-person, or third person.
2First-Person Approach This is a strongly individualized point of view—you draw on your own experience and speak to your audience in your own voice, using pronouns like I, me, mine, we, our, and us.This approach emphasizes you, the writer and is a good choice for informal letters and writing based primarily on personal experience.
3Example: First –Person Point of View Paragraph on Camping First of all, I like comfort when I’m camping. My GMC motor home, with its completely equipped kitchen, shower stall, toilet, double bed, and color television, resembles a mobile motel room. I can sleep on a real mattress, clean sheets, and fluffy pillows. Next to my bed are devices that make me feel at home: a radio, an alarm clock, and a TV remote-control unit. Unlike the poor campers huddled in tents, I don’t have to worry about cold, rain, heat, or annoying insects. After a hot shower, I can slide into my pajamas, sit comfortably on my down-filled quilt, and read the latest best-seller while a thunderstorm booms outside.
4Second-Person Approach In this approach, the writer speaks directly to the reader, using the pronoun you.This approach emphasizes the reader andworks well for giving advice, instructions, or explaining how to do something.Otherwise, as a general rule, never use the word you in writing.
5Third-Person Approach This approach is the most common point of view in academic writing.In the third-person, the writer includes no direct references to the reader (you) or the self (I, me). It derives its name from its stance—that of an outsider or third-person observing and reporting on matters of public rather than private importance.This approach emphasizes the subject and draws on information that the writer has acquired through observation, thinking, or reading. It is appropriate in formal academic and professional writing.
6Example: Third-Person Point of View Paragraph on Camping First of all, modern campers bring complete bedrooms with them. Winnebagoes, GMC motor homes, and Airstream trailers lumber into America’s campgrounds every summer like mobile motel rooms. All the comforts of home are provided inside. Campers sleep on real mattresses with clean sheets and fluffy pillows. Next to their beds are the same gadgets that litter their night tables at home—radios, alarm clocks, and TV remote –control units. It’s not necessary for them to worry about annoyances like cold, heat, rain, or buzzing insects. They can sit comfortably in bed and read the latest best-sellers while a thunderstorm booms outside.Here is the paragraph on camping, recast in the third person. Note the third-person pronouns their, them, and they all refer to campers in the first sentence.
7Coherence suffers whenever a draft shifts confusingly from one point of view to another.The solution is to choose a suitable perspectiveand then stay with it.
8One week our class met in a junkyard to practice Example 1:One week our class met in a junkyard to practicerescuing a victim trapped in a wrecked car. Welearned to dismantle the car with the essential tools.You (We) were graded on your (our) skill inextricating the victim.The writer should have stayed with the we point of view. You is inappropriate because the writer is not addressing the reader directly. You should not be used in a vague sense meaning anyone.
9One of the fringe benefits of my job is that you (I) Example 2:One of the fringe benefits of my job is that you (I)can use a company credit card for gasoline.The most common mistake people make is to let a you slip into their writing after they start with another pronoun.
10Shifting Point of View Activity 1. Ron refuses to eat pepperoni pizza because he says it gives you (him) indigestion.2. When I buy lipstick or nail polish, you (I) never know how the color will actually look.3. All you (I) could hear was the maddening rattle of the heating registers, even though I buried my face in the pillow.4. Hank searched the roadside mailboxes for the right name, but you (he) couldn’t see much in the pouring rain.5. As we pulled on the heavy door, you (we) could tell it wasn’t going to budge.Replace the inconsistent pronouns with the correct pronouns. Example: When I examined the used car, you (I) could see where a dent in the door panel had been repaired.
11Active Verbs (Active Voice) Versus Passive Verbs (Passive Voice) Active verbs express meaning more emphatically and vigorously than their weaker counterparts—forms of the verb be or verbs in the passive voice.Forms of the verb be (be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been) lack vigor because they convey no action.Verbs in the passive voice lack strength because their subjects receive the action instead of doing it.Active and passive verbs are both grammatically correct, but active verbs are usually more effective because they are simpler and more direct.
12Passive: The coolant pumps were destroyed by a surge of power. Example:Passive: The coolant pumps were destroyed by a surge of power.Active: A surge of power destroyed the coolant pumps.
13Furthermore, carefully selected verbs can energize a piece of writing.
14Original: The goalie crouched low, reached out his stick, and Example:Original: The goalie crouched low, reached out his stick, andsent the rebound away from the mouth of the net.Revised: The goalie crouched low, swept out his stick, andhooked the rebound away from the mouth of thenet.Revised version is more energized by using visually descriptive action verbs.
15If using a be verb makes a sentence needlessly wordy, consider replacing it.
16Original: Burying nuclear waste in Antarctica would be in Example:Original: Burying nuclear waste in Antarctica would be inviolation of an international treaty.Revised: Burying nuclear waste in Antarctica would violatean international treaty.Violate is less wordy and more vigorous than be in violation of.
17Prefer Active VoiceIn the active voice, the subject of the sentence does the action.In the passive voice, the subject receives the action.Although both voices are grammatically correct, the active voice is usually more effective because it is simpler, more direct, and less wordy.Example 1: Active: The committee reached a decision.Example 2: Passive: A decision was reached by the committee.Sentences in active voice are also more concise than those in passive voice because fewer words are required to express action in active voice than in passive. Use the active voice unless you have a good reason for choosing the passive.
18To change a sentence from the passive to the active voice, determine carefully who or what is performing the action.Example:Passive: The book is being read by most of the class.Active: Most of the class is reading the book.
19Sometimes the performer of the action does not appear in a passive-voice sentence.Example:Passive: Results will be published in the next issueof the journal.Active: The researchers will publish their results inthe next issue of the journal.Sometimes you will need to infer the agent from the surrounding sentences which provide context.
20Choosing Passive Voice In scientific writing, passive voice is more readily accepted since using it allows one to write without using personal pronouns or the names of particular researchers.This practice helps to create the appearance of an objective, fact-based paper.Even in scientific writing, overuse of passive voice or use of passive voice in long and complicated sentences can cause readers to lose interest or become confused. Sentences in active voice are generally, though not always, clearer and more direct than those in passive voice.Passive voice creates an impersonal, bureaucratic language very popular in many institutions.
21Recognizing Passive Voice Passive voice has three basic characteristics:A form of the verb to be (is, am, are, was, were, be, been, or being).A past participle (a verb ending in “ed” or “en” except irregular verbs like kept).A prepositional phrase beginning with “by.”
22The first sentence uses all three characteristics: Examples:The first sentence uses all three characteristics:The meeting is being held by the human resourcesdepartment.It’s a great honor to be applying to aprestigious company.The first sentence includes: the verb “to be”, past participle (held), and prepositional phrase (by).
23Unnecessary ShiftsAvoid starting a sentence in active voice and then shifting to passive.
24Original: Many customers in the restaurant found the coffee Example:Original: Many customers in the restaurant found the coffeetoo bitter to drink, but it was still orderedfrequently.Revised: Many customers in the restaurant found the coffeetoo bitter, but they still ordered it frequently.