English Composition 1 – Essay Example

English Composition Assignment: Voice and Tense What does voice refer to in a sentence? Voice refers to the verb placement in the sentence in relation to the subject. There are two voices known as active and passive. The grammatical difference between the two voices is based on this point. In the active voice, the subject is specified before the verb, after which comes the object. In a passive sentence, the subject is either placed after the verb, or it may not be specified at all. To put it another way, in the active voice, which is the standard and more common sentence structure, the subject acts on the object. On the other hand, in the passive voice, the sentence is structured in such a way that the subject is being acted upon instead of acting. The effect of using the passive voice is that it is unclear who is doing what to whom, whereas in the active voice this is clear. Here are examples of the same sentence in each of the two voices:
The cat sat on the mat. (Active voice – verb comes after the subject)
The mat was sat on (by the cat). (Passive voice – verb comes before the subject)
In the first sentence, the subject (cat) precedes the verb (sat), whereas in the second it follows it, but is given in brackets because it may be written or even left out. The passive voice is not normally used because the sentence tends to become wordy and dull. Moreover, it is often unclear who is performing the action. However, it is useful in certain contexts where it is not necessary to specify the subject, or it is not possible to do so because the subject is unknown. For this reason it is a common construction in scientific and technical writing.
What does tense refer to?
Tense refers to the form of the (predicate) verb used. In the English language, although tense is related to the concept of time it is not a strict relationship in all sentence structures. So, only generally can we say that the present tense concerns the present time, the past tense with the past time, and the future tense with future time. Moreover, although 12 tenses are traditionally identified, there are technically only two viz. present and past. The other forms of the verb are derived from combinations of these and what are known as aspects (perfect or continuous) and modalities. The 12 tenses are as follows:
1. Simple present (this is the base form of the verb, suffixed by –s for certain pronouns)
2. Simple past (participle)
3. Simple future (either ‘will/shall’ or ‘am/is/are + going to’ + base form)
4. Present continuous (‘am/is/are’ + base form + suffix ‘-ing’)
5. Past continuous (‘was/were’ + base form + suffix ‘-ing’)
6. Future continuous (‘will’ + ‘be’ + base form + suffix ‘-ing’, or ‘am/is/are’ + going to +be + base form + ‘-ing’)
7. Present perfect (‘have/has + participle)
8. Past perfect (‘had’ + participle)
9. Future perfect (‘will + have’ + participle, or ‘am/is/are + going to + have’ + participle)
10. Present future continuous (‘have/has’ + ‘been’ + base form + suffix ‘-ing’)
11. Past perfect continuous (‘had’ + ‘been’ + base form + suffix ‘ing’)
12. Future perfect continuous (‘will’ + ‘have’ + ‘been’ + base form + suffix ‘-ing’)