TOW #2: Grammar Girl

For many years, I have struggled with active versus passive voice. The explanations I received seemed to make sense at the time, but never really stuck with me. I found myself going over the examples only to discover that they confused me. While browsing Grammar Girl’s website, her topic on active versus passive voice jumped out at me (Grammar Girl website). I was amazed to find that Grammar Girl’s explanation of the two made complete sense to me! It’s like a light bulb went off in my brain. How exciting! 😉

Essentially, the difference between active and passive voice is whether or not the subject is performing the action in the sentence. In active voice, the subject performs the action. For example: Jacob loves Sarah. Jacob, the subject, is doing the action: he loves Sarah, the object. In passive voice, the target of the action changes to the subject position. Rather than saying, “Jacob loves Sarah,” one would say, “Sarah is loved by Jacob.” Sarah becomes the subject of the sentence, but she isn’t performing any action. Instead, the focus is on Sarah, and she is the recipient of Jacob’s love (Grammar Girl website).

After a lifetime of struggling with active versus passive voice, I am surprised to find that all I really needed to hear was a simplistic explanation. Grammar Girl breaks it down using very basic examples, which makes them easy  for me to remember. She also explains the instances in which it is acceptable, and even necessary, to use passive voice (Grammar Girl website). This is interesting to me, as passive voice is a sort of taboo in writing. However, it exists because there are times when it is necessary. The trickiest part is knowing when that is. Now, because of Grammar Girl’s helpful lesson, I know exactly what the two voices are and how and when to use them. Thanks Grammar Girl!


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