A passive aggressive quiz

Many people who like to give writing advice – or just pick at other people’s writing – like to hate on the passive voice. But quite a lot of those who do don’t actually know what they’re talking about. How about you? Try my latest salvo in The Week:

Grammar quiz: Do you know the passive voice?


3 responses to “A passive aggressive quiz

  1. Your quiz has been aced by at least one fellow loather of Strunk & White.

    “By the way, you can have a passive with an empty subject — see if you can spot where I use one below.”

    Were you referring to the “can be expressed” construction replacing “you/one can express”? That’s the only thing I spotted that seems to qualify…

    • “it was found by Caitlin Fausey and Lera Boroditsky that people would assign less blame…” 🙂

      • Ah, right. The “it” doubling for a concept expressed in a full clause, which is comparable to the “it’s fashionable to [X]” case. Makes sense. I was looking for a case of “by [empty subject]”, rather than a passive construction with the empty subject still in the actual subject possession. After I didn’t find that, “can be expressed” (with an implied “by one / whoever”) seemed like the closest thing…

        Clearly I need to be more literal-minded.

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