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Humanities Libertexts

5.17: Try It: Voice

This activity is not graded. The text fields below are purely for self-reflection; you do not need to submit anything for this assignment.

Identify

Read the following paragraphs. Identify each sentence as an active voice sentence or a passive voice sentence.

Therizinosaurus-350x467.jpg

Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\) - A statue of a Therizinosaurus in JuraPark Bałtów, a dinosaur themed park in Poland.

(1) Therizinosaurs were some of the true freaks of the dinosaur world. (2) I mean that in the nicest possible way for something that looked like the sick offspring of a giant chicken and Freddie Kruger. (3) Perhaps the weirdest things about them were their long, scythe-like claws.

(4) But how diverse were the claws of these evolutionary oddities? (5) What does this imply for how they were used? (6) Previously, it has been suggested that these claws—which could measure over half a meter in length—were used for probing insect colonies for food, sexual display, climbing trees sort of like a sloth, stripping bark from trees, or harvesting vegetation. (7) These guys were pretty much the dinosaurian ranch farmers of their time.

(8) To figure out exactly what function therizinosaur claws had, a shape analysis combined with a mechanical test on 65 different theropod species—the group therizinosaurs belong to and which includes all the other meat-eating dinos—was used by Stephan Lautenschlager.

Answer:

Your answer should look something like this:

Sentence 1 is active. Sentence 2 is active. Sentence 3 is active. Were is used as a linking verb in sentences 1 and 3; it does not indicate the passive voice.

4 is active. 5 is active, but it does have a passive phrase in it (how they were used). Both halves of 6 are passive (“Previously, it has been suggested. . .”) . Sentence 7 is active.

Sentence 8 is passive. Incidentally, this is a poor sentence. it makes much more sense as an active sentence: “To figure out exactly what function therizinosaur claws had, Stephan Lautenschlager used a shape analysis combined with a mechanical test on 65 different theropod species—the group therizinosaurs belong to and which includes all the other meat-eating dinos.”

Usage

What is the passive voice doing in this sentence? Type your answers in the text frame below:

  1. Trillions of dollars of tax revenue are collected every year.
  2. Not only had the lock been picked, but the safe had been cracked as well.
  3. The Therizinosaurus, a dinosaur with absurdly long claws, was discovered in Mongolia.
Answer:

Your answers should look something like the following:

Hiding the actor; while we know that the government is collecting tax revenue, the use of the passive voice redirects our focus. Serving when the actor is unknown; since we do not know who or what the actor is, we could not have a complete sentence in the active voice (unless we were to use someone or something). Emphasizing the subject of the sentence; we want to focus on the Therizinosaurus, not the paleontologists who discovered it. This is both due to academic convention, and because the dinosaur is likely the focus of the paper.

From Passive to Active

Take these passive sentences and convert them to active sentences. Type the new sentences in the text frame below:

  1. The expansive castle with four floors and eight towers was crafted by the best artisans in the kingdom.
  2. The intricate detail work in the library’s pillars was carved by three sculptors over the course of four months.
  3. The floor of throne room, which was made of solid gold with inlaid ruby, was carefully installed by hundreds of workmen.
Answer:

Your answers should look something like the following:

The best artisans in the kingdom crafted an expansive castle with four floors and eight towers. Over the course of four months, three sculptors carved the intricate detail work in the library’s pillars. Hundreds of workmen carefully installed the floor of throne room, which was made of solid gold with inlaid ruby.

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