Passive voice sentences

I never claim to be an expert grammarian, but I love grammar and have enough knowledge as a grammarian to share some valid thoughts with my readers—I hope they help.
We writers work so hard to run away from the passive voice in our writing, and why? We are told in every instance—don`t use the passive voice! Our instructors teach us this, prescriptive grammarians scold us, and every writers` advice website or book commands us to run away from a passive voice sentence construction, but is this always true? No.
Most writers know that a paragraph filled with passive voice sentences makes for a boring read—this is true; however, there`s a need and a purpose for passive voice. Let`s explore.
First, let`s look at a passive voice vs. active voice sentence.
Active voice: Lori baked a red velvet cake for Scott.
In this simple sentence construction the subject Lori and the action of baking is in focus rather than the direct object (red velvet cake) or the indirect object/object of preposition (Scott).
Sometimes the object in a sentence, or the action in a sentence, needs more attention than the original subject does. In this case, we move the direct object “cake” to the subject slot of the sentence and add a form of the verb “Be” to make it a passive voice construction:
A red velvet cake was baked, and Lori baked it for Scott.
Now, this sentence is boring and a bit awkward; however, it simply shows how the focus of a sentence can change if the writer needs to use this rhetorical device for some purpose. The focus of the original construction was on Lori, and the fact that she baked a cake. In the passive construction, the focus shifts to the cake.
If an action is more important than the subject as a writer constructs a paragraph, often the passive voice will help in this situation. Passive voice is not the death of a writer, nor is it leprosy—it has a purpose at times.
One final note: The “Cleft” sentence is another way a writer can shift the focus.
It was Lori that baked the red velvet cake for Scott.
It was the red velvet cake that Lori baked for Scott.
It was for Scott that Lori baked the red velvet cake.
All of these sentence structures simply show how to shift the focus of the emphasis in the sentence using a “Cleft” structure. God Bless. WP


S.W. Biddulph

Scott Biddulph is a published writer, author, and poet from North Georgia. He began writing as a youngster and followed his lifelong dream of reaching people through the written word when he returned to The University of North Georgia in 2013 to finish earning his BA/English with a concentration on publication and creative writing. His publications include the following: an eBook, Apples of Gold: A collection of inspirational short stories and poems (Smashwords, 2010) and a paperback, Voices from the Heart, (Createspace, 2012). His poetry is published in Papers and Publications Undergraduate Research Journal. Vol 3 (2014) and the award-winning Chestatee Review (Spring, 2015), among other places (Check his LinkedIn profile for a full list of his publications). He is currently working on publishing poetry, creative non-fiction, academic essays, and his memoir. ******** Scott has also worked as an intern editor for the University of North Georgia Press. As a freelance editor, he has done the layout and design of several books and magazines. He is currently working with several authors on various publication projects in which he is either ghostwriting, editing manuscripts, or doing the layout and design of their books. ******** Finally, and most importantly, he is a father, grandfather, husband, and dedicated Harley Davidson rider. He and his family enjoy the beauty of the North Georgia Mountains where they live—especially their screened in back porch where they love to bird watch. ******** ~ "I love realism. I love writing about the raw, down-to-Earth, heartfelt realities of life. I love to write in a way that reaches into the human soul—to take the greatest pains and struggles in life, and make them a blessing to others. Fantasy is a wonderful, interesting thing—but real-life situations, feelings, fears, and dreams are an unexplored ocean of stories that need to be told." ~ ~Scott Biddulph~

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