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VOICE. Professor Flavia Cunha 2013/2. What is voice ?. Voice is a grammatical category which makes possible to view the action of a sentence in two ways, without changing the facts reported. Examples:. The butler murdered the detective. The detective was murdered by the butler.

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Voice

VOICE

Professor Flavia Cunha

2013/2


What is voice

What is voice?

Voice is a grammatical category which makes possible to view the action of a sentence in two ways, without changing the facts reported.


Examples

Examples:

The butler murdered the detective.

The detective was murdered by the butler.

Sentence (a) is in the active voice, and (b) is in the passive voice.


Voice constraints

Voice Constraints

  • The verb

    In addition to intransitive verbs, which are never used in the passive, some transitive verbs do not occur in the passive.


Voice constraints1

Voice Constraints

  • verbs of containing (e.g. contain, hold, comprise)

    * Twenty slices of bread are contained by the packet.

  • verbs of measure (weigh, cost, contain, last)

    * Five dollars is cost by the parking fine.


Voice constraints2

Voice Constraints

  • reciprocal verbs (resemble, look like, equal)

    * Maria is resembled by her father.

  • verbs of fitting (fit suit)

    * He is suited by the jacket.


Voice constraints3

Voice Constraints

  • verbs of possession (have, belonging)

    * A car is had by him.

  • with some verbs only the passive is possible:

    * John was born in the late fifties.

    * John was said to be a good teacher.


Voice constraints4

Voice Constraints

  • The object

    Co-reference between subject and nominal objects blocks the passive transformation, and occurs with (a) reflexive, (b) reciprocal, and (c) possessive pronouns in the object.


Voice constraints5

Voice Constraints

  • John could see himself in the mirror.

    * Himself could be seen in the mirror.

  • We could hardly see each other in the fog.

    * Each other could hardly be seen in the fog.


Voice constraints6

Voice Constraints

  • The meaning

    The passive usually does not affect the meaning of a sentence, but it does affect the way you think about the information in a sentence because it changes the usual order of the subject and object of an active sentence.


Voice constraints7

Voice Constraints

Still a change of meaning may accompany a change of voice in verb phrases containing auxiliaries that have more than one meaning, e.g. shall, will and can.

  • John cannot do it. (ability)

  • It cannot be done (by John) (possibility)


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