The Passive Voice Essays

The Passive Voice Essays

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The Passive Voice


The English language has two voices--the active and the passive. The active voice and the passive voice differ in that a passive verb phrase has an additional auxiliary BE followed by an EN participle. In a sense, the English passive is "inflexible" when compared to the passive formation of other languages. For example, some languages use word order, verb inflections, and impersonal constructions to form the passive voice. In their book, The Grammar Book: ESL/EFL Teacher's Course, Celce-Murcia and Larson-Freeman demonstrate how the Bantu passive voice differs from the English passive voice. "Kingarwanda, a Bantu language, can make even a locative phrase the subject of the passive as in On the bus was eaten a sandwich by John, which would not be acceptable in English" (221). Furthermore, topicalization is another "grammar issue" which differs from language to language. In the Kingarwanda sentence, On the bus was eaten a sandwich by John, the center of attention or the topic of the sentence is the phrase On the bus. Since languages have different rules which govern topicalization, several languages may not accept On the bus as the topic of a sentence. In the book, Clear and Coherent Prose, William Vande Kopple discusses topicalization in the English language. Kopple states that the English language uses topicalizers to "fulfill special functions in essays" (41). Several of these functions are: focusing the reader's attention on a specific part of a sentence, expressing given or "old" information at the beginning of a sentence, marking changes in topics, and lastly, setting contrasts between one topic and another (41).

Since there are differences in topicalization and the formation of the passive voice, no...


... middle of paper ...


...I must make my students aware of these differences. Moreover, I want my student to understand both the active and the passive voice and be able to choose which voice to use in their writing.

Works Cited

Aghbar, Ali. The New York Times Editorial Corpus.

Alexander, L. G. Longman of English. New York: Longman Inc.,
1988.

Besnier, N., and Edward Finegan. Language: Its Structure
and Use. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989.

Celce-Murcia, M., and Diana Larson-Freeman. The Grammar Book:
An ESL/EFL Teacher's Course. Massachusetts: Newbury House Publishers Inc., 1983.

Kaplan, J. P. English Grammar: Principles and Facts. New York:
Prentice-Hall, 1989.

Kopple, William Vande. Clear and Coherent Prose: A Functional
Approach. Boston: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1989.

Lyles, B. A Basic Grammar of Modern English. New York:
Prentice-Hall, 1989.

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