traditional english grammar books Traditional English Gramaar books have wrongly presented voice.In your opinion,is there a one_to_one relationship between ACTIVE and PASSIVE in English?  

Expert Answers
lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If by "one-to-one" relationship you mean that every passive voice sentence can or should be made into an active voice sentence then I would agree with you that not EVERY passive voice sentence should be changed, but I would argue that in most cases it should be. For example: The law was passed by Congress should be reversed to say that "Congress passed the law." The files were sorted by my secretary should say, "My secretary sorted the files." But in a sentence were the "doer" of the action isn't all that important, then I think the passive voice has its place. For example: The cabinets were manufactured in Boston.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I would agree with post 2. Passive voice can be used effectively in writing when it is done intentionally. Post 4 gives an example of this by suggesting passive voice is effective when used to create a more diplomatic language. Active voice is much stronger than passive voice. I think grammar books, and teachers in general, teach active voice because it is a better way to write. Professional writers who intentionally use passive voice aren't wrong, but it is important to learn to follow the rules of standard writing so you can break those rules in an effective way.
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is generally agreed that active voice is preferable to passive since English listeners are conditioned to the normal pattern of the subject as the doer of the action.  However, there are certainly times when the passive voice can be used effectively or more diplomatically:

  • when there is no known subject  (e.g. This field has already been tilled, but no seeds have been planted) 
  • when it would be more diplomatic to not accuse someone by naming the subject (e.g. The monthly report has been removed from this file)


ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "one-to-one" relationship. However, grammar does traditionally present active voice as the preferred prescriptive choice. While passive voice is less approved, it can be used effectively as a rhetorical tool. If passive voice exists in writing, it should be a conscious choice of the author to use it for a purpose. Accidentally it is not acceptable.