Re: passive voice (was RE: Numbering paragraphs

Subject: Re: passive voice (was RE: Numbering paragraphs
From: sphilip <philstokes03 -at- googlemail -dot- com>
To: Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2012 19:18:15 +0700

On 22 Oct 2012, at 17:58, Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote:

> As a challenge, why not go back to your favourite passive passage, and see if you can name all the agents of the actions and states you describe?


But all you're stating here is what active voice is used for. Nobody, except an incompetent (or, to be generous, inexperienced) writer is going to use passive voice when the reader needs to know the agent of the action. Signalling the agent of the action is what ACTIVE voice is for. Passive voice is for situations when the agent of the action is either unknown or an unnecessary distraction.

"Your message has not been sent."

You seriously want to change that to 'You have not sent your message' (user response: yes I bl**dy well have!) or 'The system has not sent your message' (user response: why bl**dy not?)?

"Your details are being processed" - are you going to change that to "The system is processing your details" ? Does the user care what the system is doing over and above what is happening to their details?

I suggest if your answer to all of those is 'Yes', then you're under the thrall of a prescriptive approach to language which has nothing to do with what is natural or the word count (the active voice versions are just as long if not longer) but rather a narrow vision of the power and versatility of grammar to handle different situations that pay the most attention to the reader's, rather than the writer's, needs.

Best


Phil
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: passive voice (was RE: Numbering paragraphs: From: Chris Despopoulos
Re: passive voice (was RE: Numbering paragraphs: From: Milan Davidović
Re: passive voice (was RE: Numbering paragraphs: From: Chris Despopoulos
Re: passive voice (was RE: Numbering paragraphs: From: sphilip
Re: passive voice (was RE: Numbering paragraphs: From: Chris Despopoulos

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