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Grammar 55 - Active and Passive 2
"The chef discovered four bad eggs, but he still cooked them." - This sentence has both parts in active voice.

Grammar 55 - Active and Passive 2

Sentences in active and passive voice play an important role in communication. In a sentence when a subject performs the action on an object, we say the sentence is in active voice. Conversely, when the focus is on the object we say that the sentence is in passive voice. This is the second of seven High English quizzes on the correct grammar to use with active voice and passive voice.

Most sentences are in active voice as the subject performing the action is more important and the speaker or writer would like to make them the focus of attention. However, in instances where we would like to be impersonal, such as in academic writing, when we want to explain a scientific concept, when we want to explain a general concept or when the subject is not important, we use sentences in the passive voice. In scientific writing passive voice helps in creating an appearance of an objective presentation that does not depend solely on individual or personal interests.

While the choice of active or passive voices rests with the speaker or writer and neither is correct or incorrect, there are instances when one or the other is more pertinent. For instance, in the sentence ‘to save time, the calculations were made on a computer’ it is not clear who was saving time – calculations? The sentence makes more sense in active voice such as ‘to save time, he/she made calculations on a computer.’ Now, let us look at another example:

‘Many diners in the restaurant found the cake too sweet, but it was still ordered briskly’.
The first part of this sentence is in active voice, while the second part is in passive voice. This is poor grammar. The same sentence reads better when we write both parts in active voice:

‘Many diners in the restaurant found the cake too sweet, but they still ordered it briskly.’

Another instance where we should avoid passive voice is in general truths. For instance, ‘He is eating food’ is a sentence that can be converted into passive voice as ‘Food is being eaten by him’, but the sentence does not seem correct. The quiz that follows helps you to learn more about the rules of grammar and etiquette in sentences in active and passive voices.

1.
Which of the following sentences is different from the other three?
The chef discovered four bad eggs, but he still cooked them.
The chef discovered four bad eggs, but they were still cooked by him.
The coach identified one good player, but he was not played in the finals.
The customer picked a good book, but it was not read by him.
This sentence has both parts in active voice. The other options have their first parts in active voice and their second parts in passive voice, which is not desirable
2.
'In the PTA meeting, parents asked teachers many questions, but they were not answered properly.'
Which of the following options best describes this sentence?
The first and second parts are in active voice.
The first part is in active voice, the second part is in passive voice.
The first and second parts are in passive voice.
The first part is in passive voice, the second part is in active voice.
Note that it is desirable to have both parts in the same voice
3.
Which of the following sentences is not appropriate in passive voice and would be better in active voice?
The car was hit by a truck.
Seeking to sack the employee without getting a bad name, labour laws were invoked to break the bad news.
The homework was done by him.
A mistake was made by him.
Here, it is clear that the management wants to sack the employee and not the labour laws. The sentence should read 'Seeking to sack the employee without getting a bad name, the management invoked labour laws to break the bad news.' The other options are good examples of sentences in passive voice
4.
Which of the following options is true of sentences written in active voice?
The subject performs the action expressed in the verb.
The focus of attention is the object.
The use of 'by' indicates active voice.
The use of a form of the verb 'be' indicates active voice.
In active voice, the subject performs the action or the subject acts. The other options pertain to passive voice
5.
Choose the sentence that is NOT in passive voice.
All the necessary precautions were taken by them.
The spider was killed by the boy.
A canal was being dug by the workers.
I will finish the assignment by the end of this week.
This is a sentence in active voice. We should not be confused by the use of 'by' here. This sentence in passive voice would use 'by' twice and read 'The assignment will be finished by him by the end of this week.' The other options are all sentences in passive voice
6.
'To save time, the paper was written on a computer.'
What kind of a sentence is this? Choose from the following options.
Passive voice - not clear.
Passive voice - clear.
Active voice - not clear.
Active voice - clear.
The sentence is in passive voice but is not clear who is saving time. Obviously, not the 'paper' but who? The sentence would be more appropriate in active voice as follows: 'To save time, he/she wrote the paper on a computer'
7.
Which of the following options is true of sentences written in passive voice?
Scientific writing should not be done in it.
The subject performs the action.
The subject is the focus of attention.
The sentence may use 'by' or a variation of the verb 'be'.
Sentences in passive voice use the preposition 'by' or a variation of the verb 'be.' In addition, we generally make use of passive voice in scientific writing. Options 2 and 3 pertain to sentences in active voice
8.
Choose the sentence in passive voice from the following options.
She sings a sweet song.
Your bicycle has been damaged.
I have damaged your bicycle.
Do you not play cricket?
This sentence uses a form of 'be' and is a sentence in passive voice. The other options are in active voice
9.
Which of the following options is different from the other three?
Students in the class found the topics too difficult, but they were still studied.
Students in the class found the topics too difficult, but they still studied them.
Children on the computer could not log in even after three attempts, but they still tried it a fourth time.
My daughter found riding a bicycle hazardous, but she still tried gamely.
This sentence uses active voice in its first part and passive voice in its second. It is always better to have both parts in the same voice. The other options have both parts in active voice
10.
Choose the sentence that is NOT in active voice.
Telugu is spoken in Andhra Pradesh.
Anamika speaks Telugu.
You should open your eyes.
They often watch dance performances.
The sentence uses 'is' and is a sentence in passive voice. The other options are sentences in active voice
Author:  V T Narendra

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