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  1. Newbie
    Student or Learner

    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 1

    passive voice and gerunds

    In my editing work, I often encounter passive sentences that contain gerunds. (They make me crazy.)

    So, while I'm fine with the sentence

    A. I can gain weight by eating cake.

    The sentence

    B. Weight can be gained by eating cake.

    rubs me the wrong way. I generally change it to the form

    C. Weight can be gained through the eating of cake.

    Unfortunately none of the sentences I edit are this simple; they are highly technical and complex, and such changes render them even less readable. To the original author, it appears that I have complicated them unnecessarily. Here's my question: Are the sentences in the form of sentence B grammatically incorrect? To me it almost sounds as though the weight is eating the cake.

    PS (Please don't suggest that I put the sentences in the active voice or make them simple--can't be done in this particular situation. Thanks.)

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Ireland

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 26,027

    Re: passive voice and gerunds

    Hi, 'B' is not wrong grammatically but it might better be expressed by 'Weight can be gained because of eating cake.' I have to be honest and say that it's not something I have thought about before.


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