Why this shouldn't be a passive sentence?


Hello, I found this piece in a wikipedia article here:


Under the "Plot" section we can see the sentence bellow:

A first-person narrative told by Paul Edgecombe, the novel switches between Paul as an old man in the Georgia Pines nursing home sharing his story with fellow resident Elaine Connelly in 1996, and his time in 1932 as the block supervisor of the Cold Mountain Penitentiary death row, nicknamed "The Green Mile" for the color of the floor's linoleum.

In the start of the sentence can we say it in this way:

The first person narrative was told by paul edgecombe,.....

Please tell me what kinda of sentece is this?


edited Oct 26 '11 at 08:16 M.Farjamfard New member

1 answer


This is passive construction.  The passive voice is used when we want to emphasise the object of the action rather than the actor.  IN this case, the author wants to emphasise the narrative and not the author, Paul Edgecombe.

link answered Oct 27 '11 at 14:53 Kimberly Expert

Thanks, so here we have three different 'nouns', 'first-person', 'narrative' and Paul 'Edgecomb', and because we want to emphasise the narrative we write down the sentence as an active one like this: "A first-person narrative told by Paul Edgecombe....." Am I right? M.FarjamfardOct 27 '11 at 18:48

No. The active sentence would de-emphasize the object and feature the actor as the subject. Sine Paul is doing the writing, he is the actor and would be the subject of the active voice sentence: "Paul Edgecombe tells this first-person narrative. . .". ----- Also, "first-person" in this example is a adjective describing the noun, 'narrative'. KimberlyOct 27 '11 at 18:53

Sorry for the typing error -- I meant "SINCE Paul is doing. . .". KimberlyOct 27 '11 at 18:54

Much thanks, it was really helpful to me.... :) M.FarjamfardOct 30 '11 at 19:50

A read all about the passive constructions, but just as last question why we shouldn't write that passive sentence like: A first person narrative WAS told by Paul Edgecomb.... M.FarjamfardNov 01 '11 at 13:39

Sorry I meant 'I' in start of previous comment! M.FarjamfardNov 01 '11 at 13:39

You can write the sentence that way, but it is stylistically not preferred, that's all. We try not to speak and write that way for consistency (between speakers) and clarity. Consider the following example, which uses only passive voice. It is correct grammatically, but sounds childish and leaves the reader unsatisfied (looking for a clear actor who is doing something) --- "The game being played is football. Football is watched by me and my sister, who is being taught to play football herself. Many followers of football are made when there are events, like the World Cup, to be watched." Writing this way is difficult even. Maintaining verb tense is difficult and tense feels strange to the reader. KimberlyNov 01 '11 at 14:09

Now its finally makes sense to me, thanks again! M.FarjamfardNov 02 '11 at 06:23

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