Passive Voice, Part Six: Is Is Passive?


Read this series from the beginning

Last time, I gave you the following passive-voice sentence:

The word red was written in blue, and the word blue was written in puce.

And I proposed rewriting it thus:

The word red was in blue, and the word blue was in puce.

Did you catch that? All we did was remove the past-perfect-tense verb written. Yet the meaning remained perfectly clear.

Recall that a passive-voice sentence has to have a to-be verb (was, is, should be, etc.) followed by a past-tense verb. We’ve removed the second component, the past-tense verb. So this new sentence cannot be passive!

Could it really be that simple? Can you change passive voice to active . . . simply by removing the passive-voice verb?

Maybe. Two asterisks.

First asterisk: it doesn’t always work. If you try to use it on

Poindexter’s head was forced slowly into the…

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