Pullum on Passives

Prof Pullum talking

Prof Geoffrey K. Pullum provides an hour-long series of videos explaining points in his 2014 article “Fear and Loathing of the English Passive”, which appeared in Language and Communication. (video and animation: James Donaldson)

The videos all contain closed captions.


View the full video playlist

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(1/6): The “receiver” of the “action”? – looks at one traditional definition of passive, and points out its shortcomings.

(2/6): There’s more than one type of passive –  looks at how passives are more complicated than most people assume.

(3/6): The real rules for passives – looks at passives that are problematic for reasons you might not expect.

(4/6): Strunk and White get it wrong every time – Prof Pullum shows how reading The Elements of Style is one of the worst ways to teach yourself about the passive voice.

(5/6) Pullum on Passives: But those aren’t passives! – looks at a wide array of advice literature on how to write, and finds that misinformation about the passive voice is flourishing without check.

(6/6) Pullum on Passives: There’s nothing wrong with passives – looks at the objections to passives that people have, dismissing them one by one.