Frequently Asked Question on Passive Voice  —  Part 2

Con­tin­u­ing with our dis­cus­sion for the most neglected aspects of pas­sive voice, we would look into other fre­quently asked ques­tions. Before div­ing straight into the ques­tions, I would like to point out the impor­tance of this exer­cise. The whole point of this arti­cle is to bring forth the usage of pas­sive voice. Most of the peo­ple frown at pas­sive voice because they lack clar­ity (The sub­ject is not stated specif­i­cally). Some­times this mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion can prove vital to some form of writ­ing (aca­d­e­mic, legal etc). In such form of writ­ing, every sen­tence is under scrutiny, hence the need of utmost clar­ity. Pas­sive voice in such form of writ­ing is eas­ily avoidable.

The pas­sive voice always avoids the usage of first per­son. If there is cita­tion of first per­son (I or we) then it is active voice.

We would start with a counter exam­ple for this claim. “I was hit by the cricket ball”. In this sen­tence notice how the gram­mat­i­cal sub­ject is over­lapped with the gram­mat­i­cal object, hence the pas­sive voice. But this form still uses the usage of first per­son. We notice that we can’t directly dis­card a sen­tence as active as soon as we encounter the usage of first person.

You should never use pas­sive voice.

Though pas­sive voice often reduces clar­ity and makes the mean­ing dubi­ous, it is some­times prefer­able. At times it is only appro­pri­ate to use pas­sive voice. We will deal with all such cases in the next series of FAQs. Just to cite a small exam­ple, pas­sive voice brings the atten­tion to the object, so a sen­tence like “Mis­takes were made.” In the above sen­tence note that by obscur­ing the doer of the action; the sen­tence doesn’t bring the cul­prit who did the mis­take. It merely states that a mis­take was made. Some­times hid­ing the sub­ject brings parity.

Gram­mar checker can find pas­sive voice usage.

If you noticed the first point under the dis­cus­sion in the pre­vi­ous arti­cle, you would notice that we dis­cussed how using pas­sive voice is not a gram­mat­i­cal error. So since it is not a gram­mat­i­cal error, it is dif­fi­cult to catch the error through gram­mar check tool. It may be erro­neous, specif­i­cally hav­ing dubi­ous actions. Let us look into an example.

Women were not treated as equals

In the above sen­tence, we see that the above sen­tence lack pre­ci­sion. A reader would def­i­nitely ask with whom were the women com­pared to here. i.e Women were not treated as equals with men. If you notice now, the exam­ple in ques­tion would be ren­dered as care­less or lazy writ­ing. So think twice before using pas­sive voice in your writing.

By now, I am sure; you would have appre­ci­ated the need for pas­sive writ­ing and its pres­ence in daily world. In the next arti­cle we would see when using pas­sive writ­ing is appropriate.

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3 Responses to “Frequently Asked Question on Passive Voice  —  Part 2”

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