| Chapter 5 - Section 5a5: Active and Passive Voice
ACTIVE: Joe completed the assignment in record time.
Active voice is the preferred essay writing style for the GRE. If possible you should always use the active voice, since it is more direct and shows action and intent. Statements made in the passive voice are weak because it is difficult to tell who or what is responsible for an action.
The passive voice does have value under certain circumstances. For instance, if you want to express something without assigning blame or if there is a question of responsibility. For example: "collateral damage has taken place". The sentence blames no one and does not assign who actually did it.
Both the E-rater and the human grader can detect the passive voice and it will lower your score. Admissions officers will also frown on it.
1. Garbage collectors should be generously rewarded for their dirty, smelly labors.
3. The minutes of the City Council meeting should be taken by the city clerk.
4. With sugar, water, or salt, many ailments contracted in less developed countries could be treated.
1. Incorrect: Garbage collectors should be generously rewarded for their dirty, smelly labors.
Correct: City government should generously reward garbage collectors for their dirty, smelly labors.
Correct: Negotiators ironed out the conditions of the contract
agreement minutes before the strike deadline.
3. Incorrect: The minutes of the City Council meeting should be taken by the city clerk.
Correct: The city clerk should take the minutes of the City Council meeting.
Correct: With sugar, water, or salt, doctors can treat many of the ailments that citizens of less developed countries contract.
Correct: A number of field anthropologists and marriage experts compiled the report.
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