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Subject:Re: Active vs passive voice From:John G <john -at- garisons -dot- com> To:Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net> Date:Wed, 4 Sep 2013 14:00:45 -0400
There is a place for passive voice.
If the agent - the person or process that causes something to happen - is
either unknown or immaterial. then passive voice is perfectly acceptable:
Aircraft are made of aluminum. Who cares who does the actual manufacturing?
But if you're too lazy to discover who or what causes something to happen,
passive voice is a great carpet to use to sweep the details under.
So, if you write "The report is generated." you should be drawn and
quartered for not telling me who, how, or what circumstances generate the
On Wed, Sep 4, 2013 at 12:48 PM, Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>wrote:
> On Wed, 04 Sep 2013 11:43:04 -0400, Matt Gras <mattgras -at- comcast -dot- net>
> Anyone have good reasons why a company stylin' itself to be hip and
>> modern would opt for passive rather than active voice in its user manuals?
> Good possibility that the original manuals were either written by people
> trained in "scientific" writing or by people who learned English as taught
> in some far-off Former British Colony.
> The former standard requires, "500 ml of water were added to 136.04 g of
> 18M H2SO4," instead of, "I stupidly poured 500 ml of water into 136.04 g of
> 18M H2SO4."
> The latter standard occasionally teaches that better writing is polite and
> obscure. "Your report of 17th is at hand. An impression of lack of caution
> and understanding is conveyed to us, owing to the damage that was caused in
> 500 ml of water having been added to 136.04 g of 18M H2SO4." So much less
> direct than, "You blinking idiot! You stupidly added water to the acid."
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