Author Topic: passive voice  (Read 1454 times)

rewh2oman

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 107
  • Kudos: 0
    • View Profile
passive voice
« on: May 04, 2020, 10:52:15 PM »
I need your help.

I'm having problems with this sentence. Grammarly says it's "passive voice" but it sounds OK to me?

The sounds of emergency vehicles could be heard when the BMW’s gas tank rang out—BOOM!

When I change it to this then Grammarly says it's OK. I think this sounds good too.

The sounds of emergency vehicles were approaching when the BMW’s gas tank rang out—BOOM!

Could someone please explain why one is better, or more correct, than the other?

*NOTE: I've tested Grammarly and now I'm beginning to think its values are limited. I test with some text from established authors and it finds problems with theres too???
« Last Edit: May 04, 2020, 11:10:23 PM by rewh2oman »

Mark Hoffmann

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9228
  • Kudos: 19
    • View Profile
Re: passive voice
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2020, 07:47:40 AM »
Passive voice is not wrong. But it is considered less engaging.

I think where you have no subject, you will tend to write using the passive voice. You can use Grammarly's warning as a prompt to check the sentence. It might be that bringing the subject to the fore improves it. I don't know if Bob is in the scene or just his car, but if he is there, you could make him the subject.

Bob heard the wailing sirens of approaching emergency vehicles. He sprinted off in the opposite direction and moments later heard his BMW's gas tank explode with a boom.

Mark
Writing humour is the hardest thing since sliced bread.

The Severed Hands of Oliver Olivovich
UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087SLGLSL
US - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087ZN6L6V

FB Author Page - https://www.facebook.com/Mark-Hoffmann-Writer-102573844786590

Jo Bannister

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2367
  • Kudos: 12
  • If this was easy, anyone could do it
    • View Profile
Re: passive voice
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2020, 09:39:52 AM »
I wish would-be writers would stop listening to an algorithm and learn their trade from good books instead.  Grammarly's suggestion is awful.  Your first attempt was better; though the whole sentence could be improved.  Lose the BOOM for starters, unless you're writing for the under-10s.  Then ask yourself if a row of initials is the best way of describing a car.  And if an explosion in a fuel tank actually rings. 

But again and again, READ.  Good writers - by which I mean good novelists, in any field, not people writing books on grammar - will show you what works and what doesn't.  A sentence can be absolutely accurate and still ring false; or distinctly hand-knitted, and yet strike immediately to the truth.  Develop the sense of which is which and you'll be well on your way.

Gyppo

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12758
  • Kudos: 36
  • I've been writing ever since I realised I could.
    • View Profile
Re: passive voice
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2020, 10:51:02 AM »
I wish would-be writers would stop listening to an algorithm and learn their trade from good books instead.  Grammarly's suggestion is awful.  Your first attempt was better; though the whole sentence could be improved.  Lose the BOOM for starters, unless you're writing for the under-10s.  Then ask yourself if a row of initials is the best way of describing a car.  And if an explosion in a fuel tank actually rings. 

Send a polite 'author's query letter' to your county fire headquarters.  Ask if anyone can spare a few minutes to answer a few questions.  You'll probably get an answer from their 'Press Officer'.  If you're really lucky they'll put you in touch with a retired or part-time officer who is an enthusiastic provider of information.  Specialists, as a rule, like an audience.

Ask what an exploding tank sounds like.  You'll probably also get told it's nowhere near as common as films suggest.  Ask how it feels to be near one when it does go.  Ask if it looks the way it's usually portrayed in films.

You stand a good chance of getting a reply, and no research is ever wasted.

But always remember to say thank you twice.  Once in advance with the query, and again afterwards.

Gyppo

rewh2oman

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 107
  • Kudos: 0
    • View Profile
Re: passive voice
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2020, 08:53:53 PM »
Thank you Mark, Jo & Gyppo! I knew I came to the right place for some sound advice.

I'll use Grammarly with a grain of salt. A rewrite is always a good alternative. I can try including a subject to see if it "fits".

READING/READING/READING is what I value the most. It's hard for me because of my vision challenges, but I will try to do more. Since I come from an IT background I know the positives and negatives software brings. That should've been a big clue for me to begin with.

And I'm not shy when it comes to asking questions, Gyppo, so your advice is valued as well. You've all heard of the saying that "no such thing as a stupid question". I prefer the one that says "the only stupid question is the one that is never asked".

Thanks for the inspiration to do better!
« Last Edit: May 05, 2020, 11:23:27 PM by rewh2oman »

DGSquared

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5211
  • Kudos: 8
  • May the farce be with you.
    • View Profile
Re: passive voice
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2020, 01:47:21 AM »
Hi, Russ. Good to see you around again. Are you enjoying our California heatwave? Not me. 8) :o?


Grammarly can be quite annoying and I ignore it regularly. Sometimes, it's obvious to the reader, my sentence structure needs work. I find though that Grammarly can even change the context of a sentence if I follow its suggestions, so I do not follow them but it is good to keep me second-guessing for a second or two.  My spell check can get me into trouble too.

Listen to the two pros. I have nothing helpful to offer.  ;D

Best of luck with your writing.

~Deb
« Last Edit: May 06, 2020, 01:49:26 AM by DGSquared »
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark. -Chinese proverb

Blondesplosion! ~Deb

Jo Bannister

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2367
  • Kudos: 12
  • If this was easy, anyone could do it
    • View Profile
Re: passive voice
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2020, 09:36:25 AM »
Nice response, Russ.  The grain of salt approach is fine: that's how I use Spellcheck - it picks up some errors, but I know better than to trust it above my own judgement.

Delighted to see you're reading lots.  It's not only the best way of learning, it's the most enjoyable.

Asking questions, analysing the answers and applying them - if appropriate - to one's own work is how we develop as writers.  All of us: novice and experienced alike.  You sound to me you're absolutely on the right track.

rewh2oman

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 107
  • Kudos: 0
    • View Profile
Re: passive voice
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2020, 05:23:01 PM »
Thanks for the encouragement, Jo! I've been at this for years now, and finally, it looks like I'm making progress.   :)

Hi Deb, I don't like the heat. It's going to be 100 Fahrenheit today in Riverside. I grew up by the beach so I'm used to that kind of weather. Hopefully, I'll get back there someday.  :)

Emery

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 6
  • Kudos: 0
    • View Profile
Re: passive voice
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2020, 05:49:05 PM »
A little late to the party and not sure I have anything groundbreaking but I’ll have a go.

The lists of writing rules always has use active voice but I believe like Jo said it’s more important to tune your ear than to have a list. I do think looking at the why of the rule is important. Active voice paints a more immediate picture because the subject is doing the action. Therefore, reading it puts you into a different state of mind. Reading a passive sentence, though, gives the subject, if used correctly, the connotation of being acted on. A sense of helplessness. Or fate.

As far as editing, I don’t use a program like grammarly but I do a search of state of being verbs and assess the sentence. It helps me focus on particulars. I also search for adverbs, do a word count to see what I overused, search for filtering words—so sort of like the program I assume. To me, it’s helpful to make myself be honest—is this the best sentence or am I being lazy?

rewh2oman

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 107
  • Kudos: 0
    • View Profile
Re: passive voice
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2020, 09:43:10 PM »
Thanks, Emery.

I agree that READING is the best way to learn.
I also have online resources too.