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Can a gerund turn a passive sentence to active? (1 Viewer)

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vranger

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Despite the title, I don't feel this as a question for myself.

Since the day I studied copulas and passive voice, I take a close look at any sentence where I'm on the verge of typing "was" (among other things, but "is/are/was/were" are the most common).

I just wrote the phrase "the impact on me was less profound."

I normally think of a copula (a verb with no action attached) leading to passive voice, but the phrase above isn't passive voice. It's certainly not "The eggs were fried by Jenny" sort of stuff.

In "the impact", "impact" is a noun, therefore a gerund. However, it also carries a strong sense of action, and has an object (me) which precedes the copula (was). I decided I could accept this phrase as strong.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
Despite the title, I don't feel this as a question for myself.

Since the day I studied copulas and passive voice, I take a close look at any sentence where I'm on the verge of typing "was" (among other things, but "is/are/was/were" are the most common).

I just wrote the phrase "the impact on me was less profound."

I normally think of a copula (a verb with no action attached) leading to passive voice, but the phrase above isn't passive voice. It's certainly not "The eggs were fried by Jenny" sort of stuff.

In "the impact", "impact" is a noun, therefore a gerund. However, it also carries a strong sense of action, and has an object (me) which precedes the copula (was). I decided I could accept this phrase as strong.

Copulas don't necessarily make for passive voice ("the verb was performed on the subject") , but they can make for passive writing ("the subject was busily being a subject").

The sentence above is fine, though not particularly, erm, impactful. If you wanted to change that, you might have to rework some of the surrounding text. You could have whatever caused the impact to use impact as the verb: "The event impacted me, though less so than..."

I don't see a gerund though. A gerund is a noun made of an nonfinite verb form, usually the ~ing form, being used as a noun. So take a verb, let's take "find", stick an ~ing on it, call it a noun. "The team presented their findings."
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Copulas don't necessarily make for passive voice ("the verb was performed on the subject") , but they can make for passive writing ("the subject was busily being a subject").

The sentence above is fine, though not particularly, erm, impactful. If you wanted to change that, you might have to rework some of the surrounding text. You could have whatever caused the impact to use impact as the verb: "The event impacted me, though less so than..."

I don't see a gerund though. A gerund is a noun made of an nonfinite verb form, usually the ~ing form, being used as a noun. So take a verb, let's take "find", stick an ~ing on it, call it a noun. "The team presented their findings."

You're right. I fixated on a gerund as a verb used for a noun. But yes, it's the present participle with the -ing suffix.

Hopefully that won't distract from the substance of my thought, which is that "impact" used as a noun is introducing action.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
I just wrote the phrase "the impact on me was less profound."

In "the impact", "impact" is a noun, therefore a gerund. However, it also carries a strong sense of action, and has an object (me) which precedes the copula (was). I decided I could accept this phrase as strong.
Interesting thoughts. I'm all for writing workouts that produce strong writing. Of course my brain is also nagging me with "Where my gerunds at?" with My Little Pony which proves that my brain is a somewhat scary place.

"Impact" is a strong-sounding word choice.
It speaks of a moment where energy has just been expended in a collision.
Which also makes it a kind of stopping-point.
Like and exclamation point as opposed to a period at the end of a sentence.
So in this case 'strong'='dramatic'.

I'm not sure in what sense you're accepting the phrase as 'strong'. Is it for completeness of thought or for the impression given?

It does feel like the word 'impact' in the phrase brings what punch it has inherent in it and then the rest of the phrase dissipates that energy as though "Impact" was a crash-test dummy that hit "on me was less profound" as the backstop that stops it.

So if there is action within this phrase, it's falling action, which is great if that's exactly what you want.

And thank you for something to ponder over morning coffee. :coffee:
 

EmmaSohan

WF Veterans
In my modern grammar book, which I am trying to finish, I discuss all the problems with defining passive versus active (the difference between passive verbs, passive constructions and passive sentences; the problem that "The store was closed" could be passive or active depending on whether closed is a verb or gerund). And I concluded:

Stephen King doesn't toss restlessly in bed at night worrying about the technical definition of a passive verb or how a grammarian might categorized a sentence. Instead, King works hard to write strong, active verbs

My impression is that King would not particularly like "the impact on me was less profound." He would probably like "I didn't really give a shit." Notice that I moved 'you' to being the subject.

 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Thanks to BD, Emma and Foxee.

Of course, I gave the phrase out of context. Surrounding it in the paragraph are "guessed, expected, intended, purge, struck, erase, and fight". So the phrase I discussed is the only copula in sight. In context, "the impact on me was less profound" comes at the end of three paragraphs describing an effect which has driven another person insane. The narrator has entered into the same experience in an effort to understand it and potentially guide the affected person out of their predicament. So it's a good thing the impact on him was less profound, or now they'd both be insane. LOL
 
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