Grammatical categories that relate to the use of verbs
Subject, verb and object
SEE ALSO :Mutua wants Duale out of revenue teamThe writer neglected to specify whether Mutua was the ‘first ever government spokesperson’ in the history of mankind, or in a specific jurisdiction like the geographical location that is known as Kenya. Thus, “Machakos County Governor Alfred Mutua of Maendeleo Chap Chap party”; ‘Governor Alfred Mutua of Machakos County” and “Mutua was the first ever Government Spokesperson in Kenya” preclude any ambiguity and reflect the active voice. In grammar, the subject is described as the person or thing that is responsible for doing something while the object is the thing that takes or receives the action. Objects are either nouns, noun phrases or pronouns. For example, “Joseph was seen pushing a cart along Jogoo road”. The subject here is Joseph and the object is the cart. Further, the objects are classified as transitive (having a direct object) or intransitive (indirect object).
SEE ALSO :Governor launches cancer centreFor example, “The dog barked at us” (active voice) and “It was at us that the dog barked” (passive voice). Clearly, the second sentence is not only dull, it is non-specific. However, as much as the active voice should take precedence over passive voice, there are times when it becomes necessary to use the passive voice. Such instances include putting emphasis on who receives the action as in President Ronald Reagan of the US was shot by John Warnock Hinckley Jr”. Any time one is not sure of who carried out an action, use the passive voice. For example “My phone has been stolen”. In making general statements like “Traffic rules demand that travellers in motor vehicles must fasten their safety belts”, we are employing the passive voice. For those who work in the media, especially, there are times when being forthright could land one in trouble for defamation. In such situations, journalist choose to be evasive while publishing news, perhaps to avoid being a target of libel suits post the news publication. For example, “Members of Parliament are an avaricious lot, always thinking about themselves before voters; if at all”. Where an action is not of great significance, we use the passive voice. For instance; “Our parents’ house is getting a new coat of paint after a long time of neglect”. Often, formal texts and scientific journals are written in passive voice. For instance “Water added into acid is a recipe for serious burns in a laboratory”. Mr Chagema is a correspondent at The Standard
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