Student or Learner
***** NOT A TEACHER *****
(1) I have found some information that may interest you.
(2) In The King's English (remember that it was published in 1906), the Fowler
brothers gave these examples:
(a) An elementary condition of a sound discussion is a frank recognition of the gulf severing two sets of facts. (This came from The Times -- which, in those days, was the newspaper of the elite class.) The Fowler brothers say such a sentence is too abstract because of all the nouns. They want something more concrete, such as:
There can be no sound discussion where the gulf severing two sets of facts is not frankly recognized.
(b) There seems to have been an absence of attempt at conciliation between rival sects. The brothers suggest: The sects seem never to have tried mutual conciliation.
(3) And I found this in On Writing Well (1985) by William Zinsser. Published by Harper & Row:
Nouns that express a concept are commonly used in bad writing [my emphasis] instead of verbs that tell what somebody did. Mr. Zinsser gives these examples:
The common reaction is incredulous laughter. (He suggests: Most people just laugh with disbelief.)
The current campus hostility is a symptom of the change. (He suggests: It's easy to notice the change -- you can see how angry all the students are.)
(3) I think that many Americans forget that in some cultures, people prefer more
formal language.So if you want to say "She showed great sorrow at his departure,"
I personally agree that it is more elegant than the rather common "She was very
sad when he went away." You should write in a style that pleases you -- not in a
style that pleases others. Nevertheless, kindly remember that if you attend a
university here in the States, I imagine that most writing instructors would advise
you to use verbs. Americans pride themselves on being very direct. In other words:
Get to the point!
I've split off the questions about the new subject to be a new thread. Please do start new threads when new questions.
1. I agree they used the passive in an attempt to sound formal. I do NOT agree that they succeed in their goal. Using the passive because you think it sounds more formal is a BAD reason to use the passive.
2. I agree that you SHOULD use the passive when you want to avoid mentioning the agent. That is one of the right reasons to use the passive.
Please, please do not write in the passive because you think it makes you sound more scholarly. You can change the register with a change in word choice. She was bereft, she was dismayed, she was inconsolable -- all active, and all more "lofty" words than "she was sad".
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.
***** NOT A TEACHER *****
(1) The other posters have given you excellent advice.
(2) I can well understand your feelings about the passive and foreign words, etc.
(3) I think that some cultures prefer not to be too direct. For example, I have heard
that in your beautiful country, people dislike saying "No" to anyone and that they
will try to express the "No" in some other and more polite manner.
(4) I think that you should write in any way that pleases you. If you wish to use
the passive, do so. If you wish to pepper your writing with foreign words and phrases,
then you should do so. Of course, you will have to pay the price. If you are writing
a book, probably that kind of writing will not attract many readers.
(a) One of my favorite books is about the newspapers and politics in 19th century
England. It is the book on the subject. But it will never find a wide audience, for it
is full of "big" words on every page (I have to run to my dictionary constantly) and
plenty of foreign phrases. It really "turns readers off." But it was written for an
academic audience, not for ordinary people like me. He wanted to impress a certain
class of scholars -- and he certainly did!
(5) Maybe the "secret" is: know your audience. Then you can decide how "formal"
you want your writing to be for that particular audience.