Read this introduction to an academic study written by an undergraduate linguistics student. As you read, note the use of the active and passive voices. Are they used effectively? What revisions would you suggest? The sentences have been numbered to aid you in your comments.
(1) In this modern age, technology is becoming ever more prevalent, appearing in every facet of our lives. (2) A lot of discussion about whether technology is hurting or helping our ability to communicate has been inspired by this increase in technology. (3) The debate about the effectiveness of uni- and multi-modality in media is one of the most interesting research topics in this area. (4) Uni-modality is the use of one medium (e.g., only text or only audio), and multi-modality is the use of multiple mediums (e.g., text and images or audio and a video). (5) It is argued that mutli-modality enhances a work’s intended message, but others think that mutli-modality detracts from the experience.
(6) The effectiveness of the multi-modailty of the music video of the song Brave by Sara Bareilles will be examined in this paper (its two modalities are audio and video). (7) In the lyrics, listeners are encouraged to cast aside their fear and be themselves. (8) The video features Sara Bareilles and six other individuals dancing by themselves (all in separate locations) in public. (9) While Sara is featured in locations without any other people, the other dancers are surrounded by people who don’t know why they are dancing. (10) This paper will analyze the lyrics of this song to find their intended effect, and then analyze the video to see if it enhances or detracts from this intention.
Sentence 2 is in the passive voice; using the active voice would make this sentence much easier to understand: “This increase of technology has inspired a lot of discussion about whether technology is hurting or helping our ability to communicate.”
One half of sentence 5 is in the passive voice, and the other is in the active voice. Not only does this combination make the sentence confusing to read, it also strips the sentence of parallelism. A better sentence would be something like this: “Some argue that mutli-modality enhances a work’s intended message, but others think that mutli-modality detracts from the experience.”
Sentence 6 is in the passive voice; using the active voice would make this sentence much easier to understand: “This paper will examine the effectiveness of the multi-modailty of the music video of the song Brave by Sara Bareilles (its two modalities are audio and video).”
Sentence 7 is passive. Its technically fine, but it might be better to say “The lyrics encourage listeners to cast aside their fear and be themselves.”
Sentence 9 an effective passive sentence: we the focus of the sentence to be on Sara and the dancers, not on the video and the surrounding people.