Beginning or inattentive writers tend to overuse passive voice, which deserve to weaken their prose, bring about the omission of essential information, and make them show up unsure of their ideas. When instructors draw attention come the problem, some students overcompensate, eliminating all passive voice from your

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Although many academic writers often favor energetic voice because it is direct and also concise, both voices are useful and necessary. That is why the grammar inspect on word processing programs highlights every passive constructions—it provides writers a possibility to take into consideration whether each selection is suitable according come the objective of the sentence.


Understand exactly how both energetic and passive sentences space structured.

energetic Voice: The subject of the sentence is the one law the action.

The researcher compared the habits of two groups of children. The clerk was helping the customer. Students need great study an abilities to succeed in college. You should tell him.

Passive Voice: The subject of the sentence is now being acted upon. The actor move to the end of the sentence with by or drops off altogether if it is unimportant or unknown. The verb must encompass a kind of be, complied with by a previous participle (normally an -ed ending).

The habits of two groups of kids was compared (by the researchers). The client was being helped (by the clerk). Good study an abilities are needed to success in college. The should be told.

Only verbs that are adhered to by an item can be provided in the passive. That is not possible to usage verbs such together come, exist, happen, seem, and sleep (intransitive verbs) in the passive.

incorrect Something to be happened.

correctSomething happened.

Know when energetic voice is proper or preferred.

All the the examples listed below are choices based on style and rhetorical context, not strict grammar rules.

To emphasis readers’ attention on the actor, no what is being acted upon.

Active: Captain Ahab pursues the whale relentlessly. Passive: The whale is sought relentlessly. (Or, The whale is pursued relentlessly by Captain Ahab.) In the above example, the energetic voice would be preferred if the writer wanted to focus readers’ fist on Captain Ahab. The passive voice would certainly be preferred if the writer wanted to focus readers’ attention on the whale, or on the reality that the is sought relentlessly.

When that is vital that readers know exactly who did (or said) what to whom.

Active: when U.S. Troops got into Iraq, lock inadvertently killed plenty of civilians. Passive: once Iraq to be invaded, numerous civilians were eliminated inadvertently.

In the above example, the energetic voice would certainly be proper if the writer wanted to name or emphasize the gibbs (U.S troops), not only their actions. The passive voice would be ideal if the writer did no think the was essential for readers to understand who did the action in the sentence.

Know when passive voice is proper or preferred.

All the the examples below are choices based upon style and rhetorical context, no strict grammar rules.

To focus attention ~ above the procedure or materials, quite than ~ above the actor, together in clinical or technological

Next, salicylic mountain was added to the test tube.

To emphasis attention top top the object, quite than the actor.

Paper, the main material today, was designed by the Chinese.

This is ideal when the emphasis is ~ above the background of paper, no on Chinese innovations. Picking passive voice permits the writer to use “paper” as the subject of the sentence.

The brand-new highway will certainly be perfect sometime next month.

This is ideal when the emphasis is on the highway project, not on the employees completing it.

To connect ideas in various clauses or sentences more clearly.

When interviewing because that a job, stop making grammar errors. Lock are frequently used by employers to weed out project applicants.

In the start of the 2nd sentence, making use of passive voice (“used by employers”) allows the writer to describe grammatical errors (“They”) ideal away in bespeak to plainly connect come the finish of the previous sentence.

For more grammar information: Azar, B.S. (1989). Understanding and using English grammar. (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, new Jersey: Prentice Hall.

For much more usage information: Anson, C.M., Schwegler, R.A., & Muth, M.F. (2000). The Longman writer’s companion. New York: Longman.

Miles, R., Bertonasco, M., & Karns, W. (1991). Prose style: A modern-day guide. (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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Williams, Joseph M. (2000). Style: Ten great in clarity and also grace. (6th ed.). New York: Longman.