October 21st, 2013

Let me see..

Passive Workshop: A grammar whodunit (Session 1)

Like me, you’ve probably been told not to use passive voice, but what is passive voice? Can you recognize it, and is it really death to good prose? In this online workshop, with one brief post per day for ten days, your questions will be answered and your doubts will be erased.

Why am I the person to do this? Grammar pays my bills. I live in Spain and teach English to language learners, from beginners to mastery-level students – which means grammar, grammar, grammar. I hold a Cambridge University Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. If that were not enough, I’ve worked as a professional writer and editor for forty years.

This workshop will have ten brief sessions:

1. Introduction (this post).

2. Spot the passives, using a text by George Orwell.

3. The grammar of the passive voice.

4. Why use passive voice?

5. How to change active to passive.

6. Exercises, active to passive.

7. How to change passive to active.

8. Exercises, passive to active.

9. Orwell revisited: Where are the passives? Can they be changed?

10. What Orwell really said about passive voice.

Next post: Spot the passives in the first paragraph of “Principals of Newspeak” by George Orwell.

— Sue Burke