Monday, September 4, 2017
Verbs: A New Saga
Ahh, passive verbs. One of my favorite subjects.
One huge misconception about passive voice—otherwise known as passive verbs—is that they are grammatically incorrect. This is very wrong.
Passive voice is completely correct, fine, and acceptable.
In fact, in my job, an FDA regulated and highly documented business, passive voice is rampant.
Which is perhaps the problem. Passive voice, like any other tool, should not be overused (ha, passive voice) but should be consciously tried and manipulated (passive voice here to keep with the structure of the sentence).
I’m going to start this discussion about passive with 3 different aspects of the definition because looking at passive verbs from different perspectives may help to gain a fuller understanding.
1. Flipping the sentence order
2. Verb construction
This year, that couple will have been married for a million years.
will (future) + have (perfect) + BEEN (be + past participle) + married (past participle)
This great sentence shows how the "be" takes the past participle for the perfect form and the "be" verb for the passive structure. Very cool, and this happens all the time.
3. The "PASSIVENESS" of the verb
This may sound a bit obvious after you understand how the object "receives" the action of the sentence and how the verb is no longer active. However, I find this an important point to mention: passive voice removes much of the action in sentences, making the sentences less powerful and more diluted. As writers, we invoke as much action and power as we can--diluting as infrequently as possible.
Of course, when we understand the potential power and use of passive voice, this tool can be used in interesting and slightly manipulative ways. More about this next time....