Active & Passive Voice
"The Grammar Detective"
This active and passive voice song is a classic mystery. Here’s a classic tale of a detective and a dame. Detective Esteban Flores helps a lady look into the disappearance of her puppy and explores the mystery behind a shady character who is only known by his initials, LIV. In relating her woes to Detective Flores, the lady uses only the passive voice. She has to use passive voice because she doesn’t know who did it! This frustrates the detective who prefers the active voice. Listen to the tale in active and passive voice, and see if you can solve the mystery before Detective Flores does!
She blew into my office like a cold breeze. Off the bat I could tell she was the type to talk in the passive voice - putting verbs before subjects. Her sentences would be one big murky puddle, and I'd be the one getting my feet wet. My name's Esteban Flores. I'm a grammar detective.
First off, my house was built like a fort,
By my uncle, Count Leroy the Fourth,
He was thought of as an evil mastermind,
Then he was thrown in jail for the last time.
Inside the fort, many diamonds had been stored,
Inside a safe, for forty years or more.
It was decided...
To move the diamonds to the collar of my doggie.
So that he would be the subject of more talk,
And not be ignored, when he was walked.
But a mistake was made, my dog was puppy-napped,
The criminal must be found, and must be nabbed!
Tell me about the night!
Okay, that can get done,
The gate had been opened, the guards had been drugged,
A handkerchief was found, initialed LIV,
I must be helped, c'mon detective, please!
Oh, she was using the passive voice alright - in her sentences, the action came before the person or thing that did the action. In some cases, she didn't reveal who was doing the action at all. When she said the guards were drugged - the real question was: “By whom?” I knew the only way to solve this case was to switch to the active voice. Even if it cost me my career.
Then I got to thinking, but thinking can be hard,
So I took a break, and drove around in my car.
I listened to the radio, NPR,
I heard a news flash that almost stopped my heart.
Count Leroy the Fourth had escaped from jail,
The police were hunting, but weren't on his trail.
It hit me like a wall hits a crash test dummy,
I called the lady with the news that was not funny.
I said, the LIV handkerchief's not inscrutable,
It stands for Leroy the Fourth in Roman numerals.
It was your uncle. He escaped from prison.
He opened the gate. He drugged the guards. Listen:
You find uncle, you'll find your diamonds and puppy.
But where can he be found?
Ha, look, trust me,
When I know, I'll tell you in the active voice.
Subject before verb: that's my word.
That’s my word.
This song explores active and passive voice with a murder mystery. The detective always uses the active voice. The lady who needs his help always uses the passive voice.
Active voice: "My uncle, Count Leroy the Fourth, built my house like a fort."
We could make it active by changing it to: "People thought of Count Leroy as an evil mastermind."
Look at the rest of detectives lines in this section. Point out the active sentences.
A mistake was made.
The police were hunting.
He must be found!
My house was built like a fort by my uncle.
Many diamonds had been stored in a safe by me.
Hey! Missing Lyrics are in (experimental) "Interactive Mode".
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