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March 2nd, 2006

Grammar Rant

This rant was redirected from another mailing list...
Passive Voice is the grammatical sentence structure
Object-Verb-Subject. Just a reminder, the Verb is what's being done,
the Subject is what's doing the verb, and the Object is the target of
what's being done. Active Voice is the grammatical sentence structure
Subject-Verb-Object.
Normal examples I've found in books are biased towards the Active Voice:
John threw the ball. (Active) The ball was thrown by John. (Passive).
I believe that passive voice has its place when the focus of the passage
is the Object of any particular sentence. Consider:

Sammy strutted across the stage, pretending to shout into the
microphone. He let amplification and distortion bring that hard, heavy
metal edge to his performance. He let out one final "oooh yeah," tossed
the mic aside, and jumped into the crowd of adoring fans.
He dropped past their heads and worried for a sixteenth note of a beat
that he would hit the floor. Then, he was lifted up by the crowd,
floating above their heads and reveling in their frantic, hands-on adoration.

Is the passive construction of that sentence disturbing? Unacceptable?
I don't think so, because the Object (he, being Sammy) of the last
sentence is the focus of the passage.

Using the verb "to be" as a linking verb is not passive voice, but a
separate grammatical structure used with intransitive verbs.
Intransitive verbs are those without an object. "He Ran" is active, but
"He was running" is a description of a state of being, not an action.

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