Usage Tips of Passive Voice

The correct usage of the passive voice is essential for your academic paper success since it is one of the main features of all formal texts. Previously we reviewed some basic grammar rules everyone should remember and today we will focus more on the passive voice because it is widely used in academic writing. The correct grammar, spelling and spelling are crucial elements of good academic writing, that’s why before you submit your essay or research paper to the professor you have to make sure your paper is flawless. The best way you can do it is by ordering professional editing and proofreading services from Royal Editing. You can do it very quickly online, just upload your document at our site and receive a prompt reply from the customer support. If you need to write an essay but still cannot find a good topic, read our free essay sample and maybe it will inspire you with some ideas.

The passive voice general overview

In English as in most of other languages it is possible to express the direction of the action with the help of two voices: active and passive. The passive voice is a grammatical construction, which is used to emphasize the person or object that receives the action (e.g. The book was read). While the active voice, in its turn, is used to emphasize the person or object that performs the action (e.g. He read the book). You can read more information on the usage of the passive voice on this grammar portal.

When to use the passive voice?

Almost every single article on good writing will recommend you to avoid using the passive voice and use the active one instead. Such advice is motivated by the idea that the active voice will activate and energize your writing. This notion is mostly true for fiction but not so for academic writing. Of course, it is important to keep a balance of the active and passive voice in any type of paper. But it is also important to use one when there is a need for it, when it can be advantageous to describing the idea in the most concise and comprehensive way. Therefore we need to learn when it is appropriate to use the passive voice.

The main reasons to use the passive voice are:

  • The performer of the action is unknown, obvious, or irrelevant. This is the most important motive to use the passive voice. In formal and academic writing it is often irrelevant who performed the action because the focus in on the result of the action. Let’s look at some examples: Teenagers have been proven to be the main consumers of sugar-sweetened drinks; The artifact was discovered in XIX century and sold to a private collection; The tons of scarce water supplies are being wasted every year;
  • The performer of the action is less important than the action itself. The passive voice directs attention to the action or the receiver, that is why it is a good reason to use the passive if you want to emphasize what is done and to whom. For example: The new asthma medicine was tested on the group of volunteers; The two liquid have been mixed together to receive the 30 per cent solution;
  • The recipient of the action is the main focus. In some cases to make your writing the most accessible it is necessary to put the most vital information at the beginning of a sentence. Here is where the passive voice can serve as a very valuable device. For example, in the active voice the sentence would sound as: Clouds, ice and other reflective surfaces reflect back a little part of the radiation that strikes the Earth. Here the emphasis lies on the clouds and ice, when what we really are interested in is the radiation. The passive voice will help us to redirect the focus to the right object: A little part of the radiation that strikes the Earth is reflected back by the clouds, ice and other reflective surfaces.

Different types of the passive voice and how to form them

The passive voice construction is changed accordingly to the tense it is used in, so we are not going to focus on different verb tenses and will move directly to more important aspects of the passive voice usage. When you use the passive voice it is possible to completely omit naming the subject who performs the action. But if it is necessary then you must remember to add a preposition by before the subject. For example: The painting was drawn by Van Gogh.

The passive voice is composed of two elements: the verb “to be”+ past participle. Let’s look at the four structures the passive voice can form:

  • Affirmative. The window was broken yesterday;
  • Negative. The window wasn’t broken yesterday;
  • Interrogative. Was the window broken yesterday?;
  • Negative interrogative. Wasn’t the window broken yesterday?

In case you want not only to read about the passive voice but also to practice how to use it you should visit this web site dedicated to learning English grammar in a fun and easy way. There you will find lots of useful information as well as grammar quizzes, tests and exercises.

The passive voice and the infinitive

In some cases the passive voice can be used together with the infinitive. As a rule it is possible when instead of the verb “to be” we use modal verbs or some other verbs, which are followed by the infinitive. For example: He must be invited to the dinner; She might have been misunderstood.

The passive voice and the gerund

The gerund might be necessary to use with the passive voice in the cases when the structure contains prepositions and verbs, which are followed by the gerund. For example: He remembered being scolded by his father; Mrs Brown liked being driven around the town in her husband’s Cadillac.

Use the passive voice when it is appropriate

From this post we were able to understand that we shouldn’t fear to use the passive voice. You can find more information about the usage of the passive voice in this online grammar guide. This grammatical construction can strengthen your narrative when used appropriately. And it is especially appropriate in formal academic writing. Today we learned the main reasons of using the passive voice so you could feel more confident when applying it in your essay or dissertation. If you still feel unsure about the quality of your writing you should consider using professional editing and proofreading services. Nowadays it is more than easy to do because the service is available online for the very moderate price.