In Defense Of The Passive Voice Analysis
But to point this out is not to denigrate scientific writing. The difference merely reflects the different natures of content, purpose, and audience. . . .
"Not only is the passive voice a significantly frequent option in modern prose, but it is also often the clearest and briefest way to convey information. . . .
"Indiscriminate slandering of the passive voice ought to be stopped. The passive should be recognized as a quite decent and respectable structure of English grammar, neither better nor worse than other structures. When it is properly chosen, wordiness and obscurity are no more increased than when the active voice is properly chosen. Its effective and appropriate use can be taught."
(Jane R. Walpole, "Why Must the Passive Be Damned?" College Composition and Communication, 1979)
* "The strength of a man's virtue should not be measured by his special exertions but by his habitual acts."
* "In general, the passive voice should be avoided unless there is good reason to use it, for example, in this sentence, which focuses on 'the passive …show more content…
But like most of the "rules" of writing (and many of the "rules" of grammar and usage), this one isn't really a rule. There are some times when the passive voice is appropriate, and some times when it is even needed.
In general, it is best to think of writing not as rule-driven, but rather as context-sensitive.* Even if a "rule" is useful 99% of the time, rigidly applying it in the rare case where it isn't appropriate will undermine the effectiveness of your writing. I prefer to think of most of the so-called rules of writing as guidelines, some more generally applicable than others.
The rule against using the passive voice happens to be an appropriate guideline most of the time. You are more likely to write badly by ignoring it than by following it. But it's still better to make your writing choices consciously than to go on automatic pilot and let the "rules" do all your writing for you.
What is the passive voice, and what is it used