Misc.: Passive voice II

November 5, 2009: Issue 313

Last week we defended negative constructions. This week, with apologies to composition teachers everywhere, we’re going to take a stand in favor of the passive voice.

Active voice is usually the better choice. But sometimes what happened is more important than who made it happen.

     acceptable: Builders constructed the house in 1908.
     preferred: The house was built in 1908.

     acceptable: Researchers discovered insulin in 1921.
     preferred: Insulin was discovered in 1921.

Acknowledgment: Our thanks are extended to reader Talley Sue Hohlfeld, by whom it was suggested that this topic be addressed.

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