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Here is a good question that I always, as i'm sure many of you do, encounter. Is the use of passive voice for instance when writing a document in Microsoft Word or any other word processor always wrong when it underlines it or is the use of passive voice more acceptable in modern day?

Personally, I believe that the use of passive voice is occasionally okay to use, but why does it seem the majority of people say to avoid the use of this?

Being a Grad. student and student teaching, this is one topic that seems to come up in class a considerable amount of time and seems to have people running in both directions, some saying its okay and other not.

Hope to see some feedback!!!

Matt
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I am not clear on whether your Microsoft checker is actually calling your passive formations incorrect, but in any case--

Passive voice is perfectly fine and is in heavy use especially in the sciences and theoretical papers. On the other hand, teachers (including myself) are constantly cautioning against the overuse of the form because it is often leant upon by undergrads as sounding more 'academic' or 'impressive'-- which is not the case; it often sounds weak and flabby. Use the active voice to create strong, direct and effective argument, opinion and narrative.
I too, agree with your analysis of passive/active voice in that active voice does tend to create a strong argument, however, in cases where the use of passive voice, for instance, a research paper, are needed to explain what has happened, how should this be handled or worked around?

Thanks!
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Matt, just look at the those little green wavy lines as suggestions. If you get the "passive" note, take a look - if you can rewrite so it sounds natural and correct in the active voice, do so. If you you can't, then "ignore." There was a thread on this not too long ago that I voiced some pretty vehement opinions, but I don't know how to link to a prior thread. Perhaps one of the moderators can help.
Hi,

I agree with much of the advice given already in this thread. However, I'm a little concerned that people may get the impression that the passive is a bad thing that must always be avoided. On the contrary, we use it every day.

Did you hear the terrible news about Tom? He's dead. He was hit by a car outside school.

Here, the passive keeps the focus on poor Tom, and reduces the importance of the fact that it was a car that killed him. The point of the statements is that Tom has been killed.

Best wishes, Clive
Clive, can you post the link to the other thread on this? There was solid agreement, I think, on when the passive is preferred.
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Hi,

Sure. What's it called?

Clive
Hi,

On the ESL level, there seems to be an invisible line to separate when we use passive or active voice. In everyday dialog, we often use active voice, if I have to give it a percentage, say, 80%. We will have to say” I do this “you did that” a lot. This sounds direct and blunt. Example: Mike spilled his coffee on Mary’s address when he accidentally bumped into her in the coffee room.

Versus” The coffee was accidentally spilled on Mary’s address when Mike bumped into her in the coffee room”.

1st one focuses on Mike, 2nd one focuses on the coffee.

Another reason to use passive voice is to avoid the “first person”. Ex: You saw Jane making copies at the copier and it was going normally because you could hear it. The copier stopped and you saw Jane trying to pull the paper out of the rollers.

5 minutes later, Mary was cursing at the copier when you walked by and you said “ it’s been broken since this morning”. You convey the message that you knew it was broken without accusing Jane. Otherwise, you may have to active voice say “Jane / someone broke it”.

Passive voice is also essential in dramatization. Ex: The first-time digital camera users are usually amazed by the convenience and the picture quality of the camera when compared to the traditional 35 mm. Not only the price of the digital cameras has been reduced by the manufacturers, many features were also improved to compete for the consumer market.

Hope this post helps
Is the use of passive voice for instance when writing a document in Microsoft Word or any other word processor always wrong when it underlines it

You must learn to be more confident about your choice of words and learn to treat Microsoft with contempt! Emotion: smile

I certainly don't let Bill Gates tell mehow to write! Emotion: smile

CJ
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