Use of passive voice with ser + participle

Mary JaneC1Kwiziq community member

Use of passive voice with ser + participle

I've been taught that this usage of the passive voice is discouraged in English, especially in formal writing, and especially when the active voice is easily possible. Is the same true in Spanish? Thank you!

Asked 3 years ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Mary Jane

My understanding is that the passive voice is not discouraged in English, on the contrary, it is often used. In Spanish though we tend to use it in more formal sentences. We prefer to use a more "relaxed" passive which is the "passive se" form. Here is a lesson in case you haven't come across it yet:

passive se 

Saludos

Inma

Mary JaneC1Kwiziq community member

Inma, thank you for your response regarding passive voice in Spanish. As for its use in English, you're right, it's often used, at least in the United States where I live. It's not considered good usage, though, when the active voice would be stronger and/or clearer. Good writers in English avoid it when possible. 

GraemeB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

You're right Mary Jane, avoidance of the passive voice is more prominent in the US. However, here in the UK it remains very common. You might even say it is overused, which can hamper comprehension, but we're generally encouraged to use it here for the sake of etiquette. Personally, I would prefer the US approach, but that can often sound too 'direct' to UK ears. 

GraemeB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

You're right Mary Jane, avoidance of the passive voice is more prominent in the US. However, here in the UK it remains very common. You might even say it is overused, which can hamper comprehension, but we're generally encouraged to use it here for the sake of etiquette. Personally, I would prefer the US approach, but that can often sound too 'direct' to UK ears. 

Mary JaneC1Kwiziq community member

Thank you for that cultural insight, Graeme! That explains a lot. I just finished a project as a copy editor for a Cambridge research scientist. She almost exclusively used the passive voice, and she refused to change it. And I know that in the US, it’s sometimes used by surgeons who seemingly want to shift responsibility from their own skills to the body part’s. “The appendix was unable to be separated.”

Use of passive voice with ser + participle

I've been taught that this usage of the passive voice is discouraged in English, especially in formal writing, and especially when the active voice is easily possible. Is the same true in Spanish? Thank you!

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