Passive or Active? Slippery or secure?

Are you passive or active?

Passive – Accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.

The Passive voice is all about having the subject having something done to it by the object.

Active – engaged in action, or doing. Energetic.

The Active voice is about the subject doing things to the object.

People who are passive by nature can become victims. Those who are active are more likely to become successful.

“He was completely overshadowed by her. He was overshadowed because he was passive.”

“She completely overshadowed him. She overshadowed him because she was active or more energetic, perhaps louder, than him.”

In the first sentence above, the subject is acted upon. The emphasis is on “He” and the fact that he was overshadowed.

In the second sentence, the subject “she” is more prominent. She completely overshadowed him because she was active.

When you want to shift focus from the subject to the object, use the passive voice. Let’s have a look at some more examples of active vs passive voice.

“The book was written by Ivor Penn.” – passive

“Ivor Penn wrote the book.” –  active

“The turkey is being cooked by Jane.” – passive

“Jane is cooking the turkey.” – active

When should you use the passive voice, and when the active?  It is a question of meaning and emphasis, and largely depends on the context.

If you are in doubt, it is better to use the active voice because it is more commonly used, it is clearer, and it is easier to follow.

Passive voice is often used to omit the active and responsible subject.

e.g. “Shots were fired” or “Heads will roll”.

The CEO made the employees redundant. – Active

The employees were made redundant. – Passive

The Slippery Slope of Spell Check

file2341253459198Many English words have more than one meaning. Compounding that difficulty, they may have more than one spelling as well. Because of that, spell check will not always work well for you. It’s a tricky business, especially because those words that have more than one meaning are often very basic ones. So there you have some very slippery slimy errors that can slither through your spell check and let everyone know that your English is not the best. The only way to avoid these errors is to learn the correct spelling and usage of basic words well. Then you can feel safe from errors that might slip through.

Here are some tips that will help you make sure that you use the correct spelling in the correct place.

Their or There

Their means “belonging to them.”  There means “in, at, or to that place or position.”

Think of it this way . . . “Their heirs ran here and there.”

To, too, or two.

(And then, of course, there are tutus and tattoos.)

“The two little girls in the tulle tutus were too pretty to get tattoos.”

I dare you to try saying that quickly . . . .

Think –  “100 is too many, two is too few, to do.”

Your, you’re and yore

You’re is a contraction of “you are”. The apostrophe lets you know that a letter, in this case “a” has been omitted. Your means belonging to you. Do not give it an apostrophe. Yore means “past” as in days of yore. (it is now archaic, these days we say “back in the day” or “long ago.”)

“In days of yore, your mother would have said, ‘you’re not to play in the woods.'”

Weather, whether, and wether

Weather is about the sunshine, wind or rain.

“The motorcyclist wears a leather jacket to protect himself from the weather.”

Whether is used to introduce more than one option:

“He was not sure whether he would come tomorrow or on Friday.”

A wether is an archaic word for a castrated ram or male sheep.

“He wondered whether the wether would weather the weather or whether the wether, the weather would kill.”

Translated: “He wondered whether the ram would survive the weather or whether the weather would kill it.”

Site, sight and cite

A site is a location, such as a building site,  a website or the site of a battle.

Sight means vision. “He lost his sight in a fight.”

To cite means to quote, mention or give credit to someone.

Discreet and discrete

To be discreet is to be reserved and tactful of speech or to exercise discretion.

To be discrete means to be separate, apart or distinct.

Revue and Review

A revue is a form of entertainment made up of a variety of sketches, songs, dancing and comedy.

A review is a return to a matter in order to make corrections, fix it in the memory or summarize the facts.

and lastly

Bought vs brought

Bought is the past and past participle of “to buy”.

“I bought it at Walmart.”

“We have bought enough food to last us a week.”

Brought is the past and past participle of “to bring”.

“I brought the magazine with me so that I could show you the article.”

“They have brought the Christmas tree into the house and set it up.”

For any of you who would like to have a reliable and searchable document to check your grammar and style, here is a link to a US document The Elements of Style –Strunk, W., Jr. and White, E.B. There is a useful list of commonly misspelled words worth learning at the end of the document.

If English is your second language, I think it is only fair to give you a translation of the poem in the first link, with correct spelling, so here goes:

Candidate for a Pullitzer Prize     by Mark Eckman and Jerrold H. Zar

I have a spelling checker,

It came with my PC.

It plainly marks for my review

Mistakes I cannot see.

I ran this poem through it,

You’re sure real glad to know.

It’s very polished in its way.

My checker told me so.

A checker is a blessing,

It frees you loads of time.

It helps me write all styles to read,

And aides me when I rhyme.

Each phrase composed upon my screen

I trust to be a jewel.

The checker pours o’er every word

To check some spelling rule.

Before availing checkers

Our spelling might decline,

And if we’re lax or have a lapse,

We would be made to whine.

But now because my spelling

Is checked with such great flair,

There are no faults within my site,

Of none, I am aware.

Now spelling does not faze me,

It does not bring a tear.

My papers all do gladden

With wrapped words fair as here.

To write with care is quite a feat

Of which one should be proud,

And we must do the best we can,

So flaws are not allowed.

So you can see why I do praise

Such software for PCs,

And why I break into a verse

By writing, want to please.

If you missed the link to the original poem that has some atrocious spelling that would nevertheless get through the spell check, here it is again. You will need to scroll down a bit to read the poem.

Maddy is a Retirement Blogger, futurist, thrift shopper and maker of wonderful waffles. A little bit green, sometimes a little bit blue. Visit her website for seniors at





#grammar, #weekly