Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Pleasures and Perils of the Passive - NYTimes.com

The Pleasures and Perils of the Passive - NYTimes.com:
by Constance Hale
 "The word passive gets a bad rap. We throw it around to vent about friends who can’t stand up for themselves, and we combine it with aggressive to describe those who express anger indirectly rather than just blurting it out. When it comes to writing, many of us are haunted by this word. Maybe a high school teacher forbade “passive constructions.” Or we recall authorities like Strunk and White, who famously told us to “use the active voice.”
There is certainly some merit to this rule of thumb; some of the worst writing around suffers from inert verbs and the unintended use of the passive voice. Yet the passive voice remains an important arrow in the rhetorical quiver. After all, it exists for a reason"

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