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Jessica definitely hits a significant point: active voice is nearly always more concise than passive voice. However, we generally consider passive voice okay, stylistically, if it was chosen deliberately. While active voice emphasizes whoever is performing the action, passive voice emphasizes what's being acted upon. Therefore, if you want to emphasize the object being affected, it makes sense to use passive voice. For example: "I kicked the ball." Here, "I" is the subject of the sentence, and we use that term for a reason! It's all about me. "I" also get to conjugate the verb. This also is a bit more natural because the structure reflects the reality of the situation. In real life, I am doing the kicking, so I should also get to "do" (conjugate) the verb. Moreover, because our narratives are usually about people who do stuff, this ends up being the default sentence. However, it is perfectly acceptable, and maybe even better, to say,"The ball was kicked by me," if I want to make the reader focus on the ball. If I were writing a story about some magical ball, it would make sense for the ball to be the subject of the sentence as often as possible. So, if you're talking about a crime, a newspaper might say, "bank robbed by gang," because the article's going to be about the bank robbery, not the gang. Or, if we said something like "victim raped by unknown man," we're putting the spotlight on the v"ictim," while phrasing the sentence as "Unknown man rapes victim" shifts the focus to the "unknown man."
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Jan 10, 2011