Passive Voice

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How do you change meant to the passive voice

See example:

These words are meant to be meaningful so that it will make the person laugh and encourage him or her.
asked Jan 29 '12 at 21:34 Courtney New member

2 answers


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"These words are meant to be meaningful" by whom? The sentence is already in passive voice because the actor is not the subject. To change it to active voice, you'd make the actor the subject of the sentence. For example: "The speaker means for his words to be meaningful."

link comment answered Feb 01 '12 at 03:09 Tricia New member
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Agreed, "are meant" is already in the passive voice.

 

In order to determine whether a sentence is in the passive or active voice, the simple test is to look at the sentence and figure out the subject, verb, actor, and action.  If the subject is also the actor, the sentence is active.  If the subject is not the actor in the sentence, it is passive.

 

In your sentence, the subject is "these words."  Do "these words" do anything in the sentence?  Not really.  They don't "mean," they "are meant," which means that someone else is doing the meaning.  The only other nouns we have are "the person" and a vague "it."  "The person" is not actually doing anything, because the force of "it" is making the person do things.  "It" is the only thing actually doing anything.  Your actor is "it," although we don't really understand what "it" is.  "Its" action is "to make" and "to encourage," both in the future tense.  If you were to turn this into an active sentence, as close as possible to how it now exists, the sentence would have to be along the lines of the following:

 

It will make the person laugh and encourage him if these words mean something meaningful.

 

or, as Tricia said, 

 

The speaker means for his words to be meaningful so that it will make the person laugh and encourage him.

 

In both cases, "it" is probably not your best choice in this.  A well-written active sentence would probably be along the lines of the following:

 

These words will make someone laugh and encourage him, if the words are meaningful.  

 

or 

 

The speaker wanted to use meaningful words to make his listeners laugh and to encourage them.

link comment answered Feb 01 '12 at 05:21 Rik Kluessendorf Contributor

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