Passive Voice

Posted by on Jan 2, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

Passive voice is probably one of the most difficult concepts to grasp. We use it every day in our speech patterns, in our jobs, and rarely even think about it. We use passive voice so that we don’t offend people and so we don’t sound overly assertive.  Customer service is built on being passive. Passive voice is where the subject of the sentence is being acted upon instead of the subject acting on its own.

Now, there are devices available that we can use to find most of our passive voice mistakes, such as adding “by zombies” to the end of each sentence we feel may be passive and if it makes sense, we know the sentence is passive. However, it doesn’t always work, and I personally wouldn’t want to go through every sentence of my novel saying, “He shouted by zombies. The chair was kicked over by zombies. She lunged for him by zombies…” It would get tedious after a while.

If that was the only way I’d be able to recognize passive voice, however, I would probably use it. Mostly, though, what we want to do is be able to recognize passive voice whenever we see it, a task that takes one thing: practice, and plenty of it. So, in this blog, I’m going to write a bunch of passive voice sentences and dissect them:

Her eyes followed him as the gun was pointed at her chest. The chair across from her was sat on by the masked man and a chuckle erupted from his throat. It was obvious he thought the upper hand was his. She tried to pull at the duct tape wrapped around her wrists, but was unsuccessful. Her shoes were untied and her head ached. To top that off, the gun was put aside by the grease ball in front of her and suddenly, his hands were around her neck. Her breath was constricted and the struggling commenced. 

Okay, that was difficult for me to intentionally write a bunch of passive sentences. Normally, if I’m writing, I have no problem making things passive, but intentionally doing so is another story, all pun intended. All but one of the sentences in the previous paragraph is passive. Next Monday, I’ll write the corrections. In the meantime, try to recognize and correct them and we’ll see how it went.

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