And A Good Time Was Had By None

My high school years wee the golden age of word processing. Personal computers were commonplace enough that the majority of us could submit home-typed essays, but it was still novel enough that we got excited about the spell checker, some of us even taking lessons from the grammar checker. I was always dinged for the same infraction by the grammar checker: passive voice. 

I don’t remember it ever being addressed in school, but that could be because of my truncated lessons due to the dual language instruction, or because I wasn’t always attentive, or perhaps it was never taught. It didn’t sound wrong to me because it was the way that grown ups often spoke, distancing themselves from the subject of the sentence, and the situation. 

Learn the lesson I did, and I would say that for the most part I’m successful at avoiding the passive voice in my writing. I’ve even come to expect better out of the speech and writing of the grown ups, myself included. 

Now I cringe when I hear (or read) what had once been common enough that I considered it to be a proper pattern. I find the abstinence of a proper subject to be a bit of a cop out. (As hard as it is to avoid being judgmental I lump those people in with those who use “I” even when they should use “me” because they think it makes them sound smart and really it is the reverse.) Using the passive voice is just as common as ever, so perhaps I’m in the minority of people who selected “grammar check” in addition to spell check. I certainly can’t place all the blame on the word processor, however, because I don’t remember it ever taking a stand in the debate regarding the Oxford comma. (If you were wondering I am in the “pro” camp, punctuation saves lives, people.)

This pedantic tirade should not be a surprise to anyone who remembers that I would correct the spelling on my friends’ notes before responding and passing them back in class. 

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4 Responses to And A Good Time Was Had By None

  1. feathersky says:

    I have no idea if I speak in a passive voice lol! But the oxford comma, oh yeah. That’s a must.
    (and I’ll admit that I rarely use a possessive plural apostrophe on the outside of a word because I’m never 100% sure if I’m using it right lol!)

    • Zen Mama says:

      The biggest culprit that I hear is the “and a good time was had by all.” What’s wrong with “everyone had a good time” or “we had a good time”?! All does not make a solid subject.

      • feathersky says:

        I looked back at my last post and totally laughed–I said “a good time was had by all.”

        But in my defense, I only said anything in the first place because I know certain people read my blog & I have to watch my words so I couldn’t express my true feelings of: preschooler niece is the most disrespectful child I have ever met, and I’ve met a lot of psycho kids! Among other things (slapping Nathan across the face in sacrament meeting, spitting on me, hissing at us, kicking, screaming…), she threw a glass bottle at my daughter’s head and her mom laughed it off with no consequence and I had to go for a 30 minute walk to cool down and although I love seeing family so much, my niece behaving like that nonstop for 3 days drove me bat crazy. Errrrrr, I mean, a good time was had by all. Cough. 😉

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