Passive Voice

Subject: Passive Voice
From: Tony Ioven/Voice Processing Corp <Tony_Ioven/Voice_Processing_Corp -at- VPRO -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 1996 13:32:49 -0600

James Lockhard writes . . .
>>The active voice is clear, direct, and lively--active. The
>>passive voice is unclear, indirect, and phlegmatic. Which would you want
>>to read?

James -- I'm afraid these subjective, blanket statements prove my point. I'll
try it again: Sometimes, specifying the actor is unnecessary and wordy, and it
deflects emphasis from the true point of interest in the sentence -- the object
of the action. Simple example: "The house was built in 1910." Far from being
"unclear, indirect, and phlegmatic," it tells me exactly what I need to know.
But if the sentence read "Architect John Smith built the house in 1910," I'm
going to wonder who the hell John Smith is, and why his name needs mentioning
here. Here, the active voice muddies the sentence if all I want to know is the
date the house was built (the date the builders built the house?).

And John Gear writes . . .
>>The active voice is not "action-oriented" -- it's *actor*-oriented.

John -- I never said that the active voice is "action-oriented." In fact, I
used the very term you use above, but without the cutesy asterisks.

And I'll just add . . .
There's never anything passive about an active/passive voice debate.

Tony Ioven
tioven -at- vpro -dot- com


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