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  Tips for Writers by Brad Hyde (May 3, 2009)

Stupid Grammar Advice?

Recently, I read an article in The Chronicle Review entitled, "50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice." More importantly, the writer attacks the book, The Elements of Style, a book I have often recommended.

How to react? I feel the writer, Geoffrey K. Pullam, has a point. He singles out the book's admonition against using the passive voice, one he says that markers will "red-circle everything that looks like a passive," forgetting that The Elements of Style also says that the passive voice is "frequently convenient and sometimes necessary."

More damaging is Pullam's dissection of the sample sentences, which upon close inspection are not in the passive voice at all (three of four examples are incorrect). I suggest that teachers (and their students) read Pullam's article and decide for themselves.

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