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Passive Verbs in Active Voice

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1 Passive Verbs in Active Voice on Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:04 pm

Bayushi Dave

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Amateur Writer
Common misconceptions place an emphasis around removing passive verbs from your writing. This is the easiest way to begin more stylized writing, but outlawing any kind of device removes a degree of freedom. Passive verbs break two major rules of writing. The first is they place the subject of the noun at the end of the sentence and make the noun being acted upon act upon the subject. The second rule comes from the repetition of the verbs. Using the same adjective three times in a paragraph is unacceptable, and using the same verb, normally "was" (possibly the most boring verb in English) is just as unacceptable.

Saying that, the use of first person employs a good deal of passive verbs, due to the amount of narrative coming from a dialogue stand point.

When writing in an active format, you make the subject act upon the noun. "I pull into a gas station to fill up. I'm feeling a little apprehensive from the amount of time I spent on the road, but my legs feel like they can go with the motion." I use a passive verb, but still keep the active tense.

Turning a passive verb into a modal verb. It signifies permission and words like can, should, would, fall into this category. Passive verbs like Have, has, and be, can fall into this category to take place as an auxiliary modifier and maintain the active voice. When using one, try to only use one. If you can avoid "can be" by only using "can" or "be", do it.

The most important thing when using these verbs is keeping the tense the same. If you need a modal verb to keep tense, then do it. But, make sure you maintain the subject/noun relationship as the subject acts on the noun.

When using first person you can avoid passive voice necessities. When the subject of a third person sentence is unknown, then the verbs signify it by placing the noun at the front of the sentence. "The man was found shot." No one knows who shot him, and even though the sentence could be "An unknown assailant shot the man." It loses some strength by placing emphasis on something we don't need to know.

First person would state in narrative, "I found a man shot in the alleyway. Doesn't look like anyone left a calling-card, so this could be a long night." The sentence structure outshines third person in this context and the verb "be" stays in active form.

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