Monday, July 31, 2006

When to use the Passive voice ????

Active voice is the better form to use. As a rule, the active voice is preferred for business writing, and for any other form of writing that requires the direct approach. The use of active voice increases vividness.

However, the passive voice is generally used when the subject of the sentence is indefinite, general, or unimportant. In the sentence, They mine coal in Pennysylvania, the subject is so indefinite that it is not clear what is meant by they. It might mean the miners, the people, or the companies.This sentence, and sentences like it, are improved by putting the verb in the passive voice.

They mine coal in Pennysylvania. (Poor)
Coal is mined in Pennysylvania. (Better)

They grow wheat in many of our states. (Poor)
Wheat is grown in many of our states. (Better)

The passive voice is also used when what was done is more important than doer of the action. Study the following sentences:

The play, "Man and Superman," was written by Shaw. (Passive)
Shaw wrote the play "Man and Superman." (Active)

America was discovered by Columbus. (Passive)
Columbus discovered America. (Active)

In the first sentence, if you wish to emphasize the play more than the author, put the verb in the passive voice. In the third sentence , if you wish to emphasize the discovery more than the discoverer, put the verb in the passive voice.

The use of the passive voice is generally used when you want to emphasize the receiver rather than the doer. However, in the majority of cases the active voice is more effective than the passive voice.

Note - In general, one should avoid passive voice in GMAT, passive voice form may appear in a correct answer choice - especially in science, medical and technical writing styles.

The passive voice is required when the non - underlined part of the sentence contains the person or agent performing the action preceded by the word by.

e.g - The shuttle launch seen around the world by people of all ages, all races, and all religions.

This sentence is missing a verb, and it is therefore a fragment. Because the people who are seeing the launch are at the end of the sentence, preceded by the word by, we must use the passive voice to complete this sentence:

The shuttle launch WAS seen sround the world by people of all ages, all races, and all religions.

The link below also deals with usage of passive in GMAT sentence correction
Link to test magic forum - passive construction on GMAT

Monday, July 17, 2006

Forms of Verb 1 - Infinitive

What is infinitive form of verb? - It is of the form to + simple form of verb.e.g - to take ; to surprise.

Uses of the Infinitive -

1). After a verb - Verbs such as want, promise, plan, manage, forget, choose, prove, hope, pretend, need, expect, decide are followed immediately by an infinitive.

They expect to win the game.
She needs to apply for a scholarship.

2). After verb and object - With verbs that take an object, such as force, allow, believe, need, persuade, urge, expect, want, the infinitive follows the object.

She persuaded us to wait.
She urged her supporters not to leave.

3). After certain adjectives and nouns - Adjectives such as anxious, sorry, easy, difficult, right, wrong, can be followed by infinitives.

It is easy (for you) to get to my house.
He was eager to meet his new boss.

Some nouns (such as way, place, time, decision, job, aim) are frequently followed by an infinitive.

He has no place to relax.
It is time to go.

4). To express purpose

He is working at night (in order) to earn more money.

The Infinitive Without to

The infinitive form without to is used in the following idiomatic expressions.

1). After a causative make, let , have + object

He made his sister drive the whole way.
He had her pay for the gas, too.

2). After the verb help

They helped us solve the problem.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Whether vs. If

Using ---- Whether and If
1). After Prepositions , we use only whether.

I haven't settled the question of whether I'll go back home.
There was a big argument about whether we should move to a new house.

2). Whether, but not if, is used before infinitives.

They can't decide whether to get married now or wait.

3). When a question-word clause is a subject or complement, whether is preferred.

Whether we can stay with my mother is another matter. - (Subject)
The question is whether the man can be trusted. - (Complement)

The question is if the man can be trusted. - Correct but less preferred.
4). If an indirect question is
fronted , whether is used.

Whether I'll have time I'm not sure at the moment.

5). Whether is generally preferred in a two - part question with or.

The Directors have not decided whether they will recommend a dividend or reinvest the profits.

6). After verbs that are more common in a formal style, whether is preferred.

We discussed whether we should close the shop.

7). Whether and if both can introduce indirect questions.

I'm not sure whether / if I'll have time.

8). Yes / No questions are reported with if or whether.

I don't know if / whether I can help you.

The link below further clarifies the use of "whether" and "if"
whether vs if

Note - The word IF does not always signal a conditional sentence. In such cases, the GMAT prefers "whether" instead of "if"

I don't know if I will go to the dance. (Incorrect)
I don't know whether I will go to the dance. (Correct)

Click on link below and view sentence no. 45 and 46 for the above rule.

Monday, July 10, 2006

because vs because of

1). Because - is a conjunction, used at the beginning of a clause, before a subject and verb.

We were late because it rained.
I'm happy because I met you.

2). Because of - is a two - word preposition, used before a noun or a pronoun.

We were late because of the rain.
I'm happy because of you.

Note : Because and its clause can go after or before the main clause.

I finished early because I worked fast.
Because I worked fast, I finished early.

View sentence number 48 at the link below

Sunday, July 09, 2006

It -- as subject of a sentence

The Third Person It as Subject of a sentence

It as a subject of a sentence can be used in two different ways.

1). As an empty or meaningless word in expressions that concern the time or the weather:

It is one o'clock.
It is raining.
It will soon be supper time.
It is frosty.

2). As the formal subject of a sentence, referring to the deferred real subject that follows the verb:

It is useless to wait. (deferred subject - to wait)
It is a pity that you must go. (deferred subject - that you must go)

In sentences where it refers to a deferred subject, the latter can be moved to the normal position preceding the verb;

To wait is useless.
That you must go is a pity.

Below is a link that further explains usage of It in simple language.
Using It

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

In spite of vs Despite

In spite of - used to express the idea of contrast.

A). In spite of - is used as a preposition. In spite of + noun means almost same as although + clause.

e.g - We went out in spite of the rain. ( = .... although it was raining.)

B). In spite of is the opposite of because of .

e.g - She passed her exams in spite of her teacher. => (She had a bad teacher)

She passed her exams because of her teacher. => (She had a good teacher).

C). In spite of cannot be followed directly by a that - clause. Instead we can use in spite of the fact that

e.g - He is a good company in spite of the fact that he talks all the time.

Note - In formal English, despite can be used in the same way as in spite of.


Sita went on working in spite of feeling unwell.-- Correct
Sita went on working despite feeling unwell.-- Correct

Monday, July 03, 2006

Using the Colon

Use a colon

1). To introduce a list coming at the end of sentence

Her house has four rooms: a kitchen, a parlor, a bedroom, and a bath-room.

2). To introduce an example or an explanation related to something just mentioned

The miser had only one desire: to see his gold coins.

3). To introduce a quotation (usually of more than one line) in an essay

4). After the salutation in a formal letter

5). To seperate hours from minutes when the time of day is shown in numerals.

Misusing the Colon

Do not use a colon

1). After such as or including

All of the old gang were there, including : Mush Head, Beaver, Sparky, and Mole.- Incorrect colon use

2). Directly after a form of verb be

The three most popular composers of classical music, according to the poll, are : Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven.- Incorrect colon use

3). Between a verb and its object or between a preposition and its object.

The tourists went to: Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec.- Incorrect colon use

Using the Semicolon

Use a semicolon

1). To join two independent clauses that are closely related in meaning

Some visitors thrive on activities; others seldom leave the lounge.

2). To join two independent clauses when the second begins with or includes a conjunctive adverb, such as however, for example, or in addition

Everyone agrees that nuclear warfare is horrible; several nations, however, continue to manufacture nuclear weapons.

3). To seperate main clauses linked by a conjunction if commas appear in the clauses

Early in the play, Samson, tormented by his bondage to the Phillistines, his blindness, and his fall from glory, laments his condition; but he is careful to blame himself, not God.

4). Between items in a series when one or more of the items include commas

The furniture consisted of a bed, with four large, shapeless pillows; five matching wooden chairs with upright backs; and a corner cupboard imported from Bristol, England.

Misusing Semicolons

Do not use semicolon

1). Between a phrase and the clause to which it belongs

We tinkered with the wiring of the loudspeakers; to increase the volume - Use of semiclon is incorrect here.

2). Between a subordinate clause and the main clause

Even though I was exhausted; I listened to his complaints for two hours.- Use of semicolon is incorrect here, we must use a comma here.

3). A semicolon to introduce a list

Her house has four rooms; a kitchen, a parlor, a bedroom, and a bathroom.- Use of semicolon is incorrect here, we must use a colon here.