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What's your opinion about 'passive voice'?

I was told to use the active voice rather than passive voice to express myself clearly.

And I think it's ture at most of the times. Well, if that's true....

When do you use the passive voice, then?

Could you take a look at the sentence below?

ex) Your computer will ask you to enter the password.

I don't think it's wrong in anyways, but... I can't really pinpoint why beacuse I'm not a native speaker..

but still.. I wanted to change it to "You will be asked to enter the password."(I didn't have to mention the word 'computer' because the article was about computer anyway.) using passive voice. Like I have mentioned, I couldn't really pinpoint why, but I thought my sentence sounded more professional and clearer.

Well, it's okay even if I'm wrong, but the question is:

If you occasionally use the passive voice over the active voice(which is known for more effective way!!) WHEN IS IT???

and could you tell me the differences between the two in terms of a nuance and feelings?

TAHNK YOU VERY MUCH IN ADVANCE and have a great weeked!!!! :->

p.s. The sentence above was from one of those manuals. And I was wondering if they avoid using the passive voice in technical writing!!

Any technical writers here??? :->
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As far as I know, you mostly use passive voice for business purpose.

For example:

1. I will deliver the documents tomorrow morning.

2. The documents will be delivered tomorrow morning.

No. 2 sounds more formal. That's just my opinion. And it is not wrong to use passive voice in daily conversation as well.



JenthecuteWhat's your opinion about 'passive voice'?

I was told to use the active voice rather than passive voice to express myself clearly.

And I think it's ture at most of the times. Well, if that's true....

When do you use the passive voice, then?

Could you take a look at the sentence below?

ex) Your computer will ask you to enter the password.

I don't think it's wrong in anyways, but... I can't really pinpoint why beacuse I'm not a native speaker..

but still.. I wanted to change it to "You will be asked to enter the password."(I didn't have to mention the word 'computer' because the article was about computer anyway.) using passive voice. Like I have mentioned, I couldn't really pinpoint why, but I thought my sentence sounded more professional and clearer.

Well, it's okay even if I'm wrong, but the question is:

If you occasionally use the passive voice over the active voice(which is known for more effective way!!) WHEN IS IT???

and could you tell me the differences between the two in terms of a nuance and feelings?

TAHNK YOU VERY MUCH IN ADVANCE and have a great weeked!!!! :->

p.s. The sentence above was from one of those manuals. And I was wondering if they avoid using the passive voice in technical writing!!

Any technical writers here??? :->

I write equipement specs and machine operation procedures. Quite often, I have to use passive voice to direct the focus and attetion to a specific area or describe a procdure in details.

In my opinion, I think the difference between right or wrong in choosing passive voice or active voice depends on the context. Passive voice to me emphasizes on the recipient of the action while active voice focuses on the acts from a person or an object .

Ex:

The letter had already been opened before I got it. This voice pattern is focusing on the opened letter

Someone had opened the letter before I got it. The active voice is focusing on the person who may have opened the letter.

The salesman was chased away by my dog when he rang my door bell- emphasis on the salesman being chased away with passive voice

My dog chased the salesman away when he rang my door bell – Emphasis on the dog giving the chase action.

By the same token:

The car hit the telephone pole as it came around the corner– Passive

The telephone pole was hit as the car turned the corner.

The point is, it depends on the context in which you are trying to write in.

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Yes, I am both a technical writer and "business" writer. And as a business writer, I continue to fight the perception that overly wordy phrasing, the passive voice, and other things that get in the way of clear, concise information is a more "business-like" way of doing thing.

Goodman is entirely correct - One reason to use the passsive is when you want to emphasize the receiver of the action (the letter was opened).

You also use the passive when you don't KNOW who did the action. In the case of the opened letter, for example.

You can also use it when it's just not important who will do it: "I need that report by tomorrow morning!" "Don't worry - the report will be dropped off at your office tonight." Maybe you'll do it, maybe your son will do it, maybe your admin will do it, maybe you'll pay a courier to do it - it doesn't matter.

You can use the passive when the person who performed the action needs to be protected in some way "Look, it's not important who put the ice cream in the refrigerator. The point is, the ice cream was put in the refrigerator, and now it's melted - so we need to go out to Dairy Queen to get a Blizzard before I explode." But be very careful here - deliberately "hiding" the doer will likely cause your reader to say "by whom"?

If you are writing a process that involves different people, generally you should NOT use the passive voice because the active voice makes it clear who is responsible for what. The receptionist will notify the employee of the visitor. The employee will escort the visitor to the work area. and not The employee will be notified and the visitor will be escorted to the employee's work area. In the latter case, you might improperly assume that the receptionist will call the employee and then escort the visitor.

In the case you first mentioned, you could say "Enter your password when prompted."

I'm happy to help with "business" writing. I'll update my profile with my e-mail address so you can e-mail me offline if needed.
Hello Jen the Cute

I'm neither a native speaker nor a technical writer, but I have written several scientific reports for international journals in the past. So, although other people have already made good answers, let me throw my 2 cents to your question.

It is true that many of writing manuals recommend us to use active voice as much as possible and avoid passive voice as much as possible. It is because, generally speaking, sentences in active voice sound more dynamic, more straightforward and thus more vivid than those in passive voice. Take your sentence as the example:
Active : "Your computer will ask you to enter the password".
Passive : "You will be asked by your computer to enter the password".
Comparing these two sentences, you will find the former sounds not only sharper but also friendlier than the latter. So people recommend us active voice.

But still we need to use passive voice in situations as follows.
(1) When we want to talk about a 'done-er' rather than the 'doer'.
"John was killed in the war." (rather than "Somebody killed John in the war")
(2) When we don't know who the doer is or when we don't think it matters much who the doer is.
"This tapestry was woven in the 14th century."
(3) When we don't like to mention who the doer is.
"Women were subjected to domestic violence in those days".

Although technical writing manuals tell us to avoid use of passive voice as much as possible, we can hardly do without use of passive voice when we write some scientific reports. In scientific writing, we are strongly demanded to avoid the use of "I" and "we". So we have to write like "An experimental study on nitrous oxide emission from sewage treatment was conducted to know its effect on global warming" when we want to say "I conducted an experimental study on nitrous oxide emission from sewage treatment to know its effect on global warming".

paco
thanks a lot!!! Emotion: smile
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Paco2004But still we need to use passive voice in situations as follows.
(1) When we want to talk about a 'done-er' rather than the 'doer'.
"John was killed in the war." (rather than "Somebody killed John in the war") The fact that he died is more important than who shot him. However, this is not always the case.
(2) When we don't know who the doer is or when we don't think it matters much who the doer is.
"This tapestry was woven in the 14th century."We often don't know who did the action. It would be nice to know, however.
(3) When we don't like to mention who the doer is.
"Women were subjected to domestic violence in those days".A former president claimed about an unauthorized investigation: "Mistakes were made." We not only do not mention who the doer is, we sometimes try to hide the information.

pacoYour three examples, Paco, are exactly what I used for students in my advanced ESL classes!