Sentences in English may be in active or passive form. The active form makes the one who is performing the action in the sentence (termed the agent in semantics) the grammatical subject. This serves to focus attention on the agent. Example: "John ate the pizza". The alternative, the passive voice, makes the thing acted on into the grammatical subject, thus focussing attention on that thing, rather than on the agent. Example: "The pizza was eaten by John." Many writers appear to believe that use of the passive seems more formal and dignified, and consequently it is over-used in technical writing. For example, they might write "The following experiments were performed" when it would be clearer to say "We [i.e. the authors] performed the following experiments."
Contrast mood, tense, and aspect.
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