Two "voices" occur in English grammar: active voice and passive voice. Look at the subject and the main verb in the two sentences below: (A)The boyhit the ball. (B)The ballwas hit. (Or, "The ball was hit by the boy"). Which sentence is stronger in its message of direct action? Active and Passive Voice (A) Subject is boy. Boy is doing the action of hitting. Active Voice (B) Subject is ball. Ball is not doing the action. It is passive, doing nothing, while an outside agent performs the action (hitting). THIS MAKES WRITING BLAND, STAGNANT, &BORING. BLECHHHHHH! http://english-zone.com/verbs/pssvchrt.html
Why Passive Voice is the Plague • Active voice sentences are often more concise than passive voice. Expressing the same idea in passive voice frequently takes 30% to 40% more words: • The fighter punched Ali and dodged the uppercut. (Active voice--8 words) • Ali was punched by the fighter, and then an uppercut was dodged by him. (Passive voice--14 words, about 40% longer) • Passive voice requires more "weak" words. It uses abstract words like is /am /are /was /were /being /been, the demonstrative pronoun (the), and prepositions like by and of. These are dull and shapeless in contrast with "strong" words: i.e., concrete nouns, powerful verbs, and vivid adjectives. • Avoid these empty, weak words and replace them with strong words. THE NASTINESS OF PASSIVE VOICE The airplane was flown to Bermuda (by the pilot). The crackers were eaten (by the puppy) and the bowl was licked clean (by the puppy). BY JOVE! I THINK WE’VE GOT IT! The pilot flew the airplane to Bermuda. The puppy ate the crackers and licked the bowl clean.
Five FBI agents entered the room, and the terrorist was plastered against the wall. 3. The passive voice clause can be confusing or unclear, especially in long sentences. (Does that mean the five FBI agents plastered the terrorist against the wall? Or does it mean when the five FBI agents entered the room, the terrorist had plastered himself against the wall? Or did someone else entirely plaster the terrorist against the wall before the FBI arrived? It is impossible to tell with passive voice structure in the last clause.) • Passive voice often leads to awkward or stilted writing, • especially in academic arguments in which the student dons a "scholarly" tone. When a reason is to be considered by readers for an argument that has been made by a writer, it is fitting that their analysis be based upon the latest statistical evidence. IHOPEISOUNDACADEMICOSIS. If consensus cannot be reached, compromises should be made, and then negotiations should be undertaken by both parties with arbitration done by an outside listener.
Three Warning Signs of the Unholy Sentence Construction (Passive Voice) If you spot the dreaded passive voice, cleanse your paper of its infernal disease! Convert the sentence to active voice. Ask yourself three questions to identify the evil sentence. 1. Is there a form of the verb "to be" in the sentence, such as is/ am/ are/ was/ were/ be/ being /been? (It is impossible to create the passive voice unless the author uses a "to be" verb.) 2. Could one insert the phrase "by so-and-so" after the verb? If so, would the sentence still make sense? If so, you may have passive voice. For instance, "the dog was fed" (by his owner). 3. Identify the subject and the main verb in the clause. Is the subject "doing" the action? Or is it sitting passively while some outside agent "does" the verb to the subject?
I am bored by the movie. Connor is bored by the movie. They are surprised by the movie. Jill is beinghelped by me. Writing has to be practiced every day. Crack should not be smoked by anyone with common sense. The future can be foretold by a fortune teller. The movie bores me. The movie bores Connor. The movie surprises them. I am helping Jill. I have to practice English every day. Anyone with common sense should not smoke crack. A fortune teller can foretell the future.
Evidence • With a good thesis and an outline, you know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Now your essay needs the weight of evidence to support your thesis and convince your reader. • Evidence consists of specific examples or opinions of others which support and illustrate your thesis. Try to give several examples rather than just one. You want to make sure that there is sufficient evidence for you to make a strong point; the evidence must also be relevant, reliable, and representative.
You. Yes You. STOP IT • When you decide to use “you” in future academic writing, I will not bother to look at YOUR writing. ELIMINATE 2nd person. • Stay consistent. • When you decide to live without fear, one can fully realize all the opportunities given to them. • When deciding to live without fear, one can fully realize all the available opportunities.
Quotes. Quoting. Quotations. • What verbs and phrases can I use to introduce my quotations? • Argues/writes/points out /concludes/comments/notes/maintains/ suggests/ Insists/ observes/ counters/ implies/ states/ claims/ demonstrates/ says/ explains/ reveals • Never allow the quotation to do your work for you. • Usually you will want to keep the quotation and your analysis together in the same paragraph. • Avoid ending a paragraph with a quotation
Platitude. It stinks. • When the idea expressed is a common one and most people are aware of it, leave it out. This only clouds your writing’s focus. And now…some examples actual homemade student compositions. Confidence is important to have for everyone in this world. If one is not self-reliant, one can not do anything by themselves. Without nature, we would not survive as humans on this planet. If one practices non-conformity, then they are going against the rules and this can get that person in a lot of trouble. Life is beautiful and it is a gift for all to cherish. It is important to have friends.
Objective vs. Subjective • Objective description avoids sensationalism and/or subjective interpretation. • Objective description is best suited to academic writing. Although the writer may have an opinion, it is reflected by selecting factual details rather than using figurative language. • Objective description avoids personalized judgments. • Objective description is suited when you are writing as the agent as others, when your writing must reflect the ideas and observations of others. Rather than focusing on factual detail, subjective descriptions seeks to create powerful impressions Subjective description is best suited to personal essays.
As humans we need to be prepared for whatever life throws at us. • Even though the road might be hard, tiresome, and full of criticism, you have to get threw it because in the end it will make you a stronger person. • An individual should be able to whatever they desire and not have to be lead by the conformities of life. • Sometimes confidence in someone else can be gained or lost. • Being confident is a major part of life that needs to be fulfilled and listen to the intuition the body gives. • In order to go through life there must be a point of self-reliance and knowledge to achieve anything. • You have to take what you have and work with it, even if it is not what you want because it is who you are. • A hilarious film starring Jim Carrey – Ace Ventura Pet Detective shows a great roll of non-conformity. • Live each day to the fullest because it could be your last. • Set out to prove the world wrong with non-conformity because you are an individual and someone who can make a difference in this world. • Without these beliefs in transcendentalism, the world would be in chaos and anarchy. This is not good. • To be self-reliant is the quintessential model of human experience and living. • Transcendentalism is a long word and this is good because it has many meanings. • The importance of nature is critical to a transcendentalist because nature is not man made.
How? How do you know? • “This photo is saying that if humans stop messing around with nature then it can take its natural course and stay beautiful for as long as we live.” • How did this student arrive at this conclusion without any evidence to back this up? • This is the fatal flaw of writer assumption. DO NOT ASSUME I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN. • DO assume that I know very little on your subject, and it is your job to connect your piece of media to both a quotation from the class readings and the overlying theme of: non-conformity, self-reliance, confidence, etc…
THIS IS WHAT I AM LOOKING FOR “Tom Petty’s song, I Won’t Back Down is a great example of self-reliance. How do you know this? For example, the song states, “I’ll keep this world form dragging me down, gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down.”So what? Petty is saying that no matter what he will stand alone if he must and not back down from hard times. As in Emerson’s works, what does he say? when he states “Ah, so you shall be misunderstood,” so what? he is saying what Petty is saying about even if you are misunderstood at times do not let the world drag you down, keep pushing for what you believe in. a bit more needed to let me know how this student reached this conclusion.
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