RE: Hocus Pocus

Subject: RE: Hocus Pocus
From: Maggie Secara <MSecara -at- bizbuyer -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2000 12:54:32 -0800

It's not a matter of opinion, or a hazy feeling of passivity. It's a simple
matter of construction. Basically, the passive is formed from the past
tense of a verb plus a form of "to be". The actor is either clearly stated
in a phrase beginning with "by" or is unknown, making the reader wonder "by
whom?"

Passive:

The ball was thrown by John.
The computer was stolen.
The file was eaten by the computer.
The tickets were lost.
The dialog boxis displayed.


Active:

John threw the ball.
Thugs stole the computer.
The computer ate my file.
Mary lost the tickets.
The dialog box appears.
(Well, it *is* magic, isn't it? :-)


Maggie Secara

From: Ward Rosenberry [mailto:wardr -at- world -dot- std -dot- com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 12:29 PM
To: TECHWR-L
Subject: RE: Hocus Pocus



> Sorry to be so pedantic, but this is a pet peeve of mine. Whoever
> thought up the terms "active voice" and "passive voice" should be
> shot! These terms seduce people into thinking that the distinction is
> a hazy semantic one and that it might be a matter of opinion whether a
> sentence is active or passive. But the distinction is actually
> objectively defined. I don't *think* whether or not a given sentence
> is passive voice is *ever* a matter of opinion anymore than whether
> 2+2 equals 4.

I think of active / passive as the subject is acting (active) or is
acted upon (passive) as in:

John threw the ball. (Active)
John was thrown. (Passive)


Simple.


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