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This sentence is more active, but no more correct: “In this way, the old religion was able to survive the onslaught of new ideas until Christianity finally displaced the old gods.” Perhaps the newcomer, , should also come later in the sentence.Again, don’t indiscriminately exterminate passive construction at the expense of the writer’s voice or intent, but do exercise judicial revision to rejuvenate pallid prose.
The sentence construction “(noun) (verb phrase) by (noun)” is known as passive voice or passive construction, because the true subject is relegated to the end of the sentence and is thus acted on, rather than acting, which often weakens the statement.
The solution is simple: Give the focal point of the sentence its due — “(noun) (verb) (noun),” and demote the false subject to the back of the line.
Attend to the actors: “The committee determined that the report was inconclusive.” 3.
“We were invited by our neighbors to attend their party.” as a sentence opener, but “our neighbors” is stronger still: “Our neighbors invited us to attend their party.” 4.
He or she doesn’t have to spend time thinking of interesting or specific verbs, or writing in clear and concise language.
It may be a time saver, but it will lead to a more muddled paper. Odysseus was a poor leader, which is shown by his refusal to listen to his men. As a poor leader, Odysseus refused to listen to his men. Women were unable to vote for decades after men were able to do so. While men elected official after official, women dreamed of going to the polls themselves. In the first case, it is more concise, and in the second, it forced me to write a more interesting phrase.Note that not every passive construction is evil — sometimes what seems to be the false subject is worthy of prominence — but a preponderance of passive constructions leads to a wearying read. “There is a considerable range of expertise demonstrated by the spam senders.” The actors in this little drama are the spam spenders — or, to be more active, the spam senders are the actors in this little drama.Direct them center stage, and send the weak “there is” opening packing to the provinces: “The spam senders demonstrate a considerable range of expertise.” 2.Passive voice can also be used when we are writing a general truth.Moreover, in scientific papers, passive voice is commonly used.The settlers were persecuting the Native Americans. The prisoners were dying by the dozens every month./ The prisoners died by the dozens every month. She was beautiful, cold, and unaware of his affections.It is tempting to use a dead verb preceding a list of adjectives, or even just one adjective.When I taught elementary school, our coaches instructed us to have funerals for “dead verbs” with our classes.Our students created coffins for “is” and “was” and buried them on school grounds – that’s how strongly they felt about weeding them out of the students’ writing.“Groups help participants realize that most of their problems and secrets are shared by others in the group.” This sentence starts off actively but then turns and bellies up in the middle; emphasizing “others in the group” over “most of their problems and secrets” makes the sentence more active: “Groups help participants realize that others in the group share most of their problems and secrets.” 5.“The proposed initiative will be bitterly opposed by abortion rights groups.” The content may be about the proposed initiative, but that doesn’t preclude given a sentence about it a more dynamic structure: “Abortion rights groups will bitterly oppose the proposed initiative.” 6.