Resources: Passive Voice a la Geoffrey Pullum

A recent LingEducator post on passive voice provided a number of links to sites that offered help for those trying to learn to identify this verbal inflection.  LingEducator isn’t the only grammar blog with concerns about the way that passive voice is being taught.  Geoffrey Pullum also wrote about passive voice usage for the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Lingua Franca series.  Here’s a link to Dr. Pullum’s article on prescriptive rules involving passive voice and to his summary of the grammatical qualities of passive voice on Language Log.  

These are well worth checking out if you have concerns about passive voice in your own writing or in that of your students.  As Pullum advises, it may not be as serious as you think.

P.S.  Both LingEducator and Language Log have been nominated for “bestgrammar blogs” at  Please consider voting for one of us or the other fine blogs between now and October 27.


About LingEducator

Dr. Jaclyn Ocumpaugh received a PhD for her dissertation on regional variation in the acoustics of Mexican American English (Michigan State University, East Lansing). Before that, she received an MA in English/Linguistics from North Carolina State University for her work on the acoustics of /r/--a sound which is highly variable in the English language. Her passion, however, has always been to understand the social implications of language variation. In addition to her work in acoustic sociophonetics, she has worked with rape trial analysis, developed cognitive methods for understanding discourse level variation between men and women, and created sophisticated tools for teaching future educators about the kinds of dialect variation they will find in the classroom. She has taught classes in English, Linguistics, and Education at Old Dominion University, William & Mary, the University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Wesleyan College. She is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow of Learning Sciences and Technologies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is helping to develop models of student engagement in the classroom. She also consults in the private sector.
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