Active or Passive: What a Daft Debate

5 Jul

Jean E Levy

Everybody knows what the words active and passive mean. However there is occasionally confusion when using these terms to refer to grammatical voice (not to be muddled with the unique creative voice that distinguishes a writer’s style). In this post I am going to talk about grammatical voice that describes the relationship between the action of a verb and its subject and object.

So, a sentence which demonstrates active voice has the subject as the doer:

John stroked the cat

John is the subject carrying out the action and is therefore the agent of the action. The cat is the object of the action. Two passive sentences are embedded within this active sentence:

The cat was stroked

Here the cat is the passive subject of the sentence and the agent of the action is not mentioned.

The cat was stroked by John

Here, also, the cat is the…

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