483 WordsOct 11, 20142 Pages
Essay Directions: For one, sentences written in the passive voice are often less interesting or more difficult to read than those written in the active voice. A verb in the active voice does not require a person as the agent; an inanimate object is often appropriate. For example, the rather uninteresting sentence "The temperature was measured . . . " may be replaced by the more interesting "The measured temperature of 253°C suggests a secondary reaction in . . . ." In the second sentence, the subject is still temperature (so the focus remains the same), but the verb suggests is in the active voice. Similarly, the hard-to-read sentence "In this section, a discussion of the influence of the recirculating-water temperature on the conversion rate of . . . is presented" (long subject, verb at the end) can be turned into "This section discusses the influence of . . . . " The subject is now section, which is what this sentence is really about, yet the focus on the discussion has been maintained through the active-voice verb discusses. As a second argument against a systematic preference for the passive voice, readers sometimes need people to be mentioned. A sentence such as "The temperature is believed to be the cause for . . . " is ambiguous. Readers will want to know who believes this — the authors of the paper, or the scientific community as a whole? To clarify the sentence, use the active voice and set the appropriate people as the subject, in either the third or the first person, as in the examples below. Biologists believe the temperature to be . . . Keustermans et al. (1997) believe the temperature to be . . . The authors believe the temperature to be . . . We believe the temperature to be . . . Avoiding dangling verb forms A verb form needs a subject, either expressed or implied. When the verb is in a non-finite form, such as an infinitive (to do)

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