Tag Archives: passive

A grammar book for you and I…oops me!

One serious problem with the available books on English grammar is that there are so many written by unqualified people. Take this one for instance: A grammar book for you and I…oops me!. The author is a lawyer. He has no special education related to grammar or language analysis. What makes him think he can write a book on the subject? And more to the point, why do people buy things like this? Could I write a book on law and get taken seriously? I should hope not. Why on earth would anyone expect a lawyer to know anything about grammar analysis?
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Filed under Book Review, Prescriptive

Vague doesn’t mean passive

The passive voice is famous for its vagueness. It lets us say what happened, without mentioning who did it. In fact, this is often the only thing that people know about the passive, and it leads to anything vague being labelled as passive.

But ‘passive’ refers to a very particular grammatical construction, and I think we should get our terms straight. So in the interests of public education, here is a list of ways that we can be vague about agency without using the passive. The next time someone says something is ‘passive’, check here to see if it really is.
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Filed under Linguistics