Watch that tomato

By Terry Fredrickson

Active or passive? It depends on our focus

smtomato1He is another example of how our focus determines whether we use active or passive voice. In this video clip a tomato is going to meet a Japanese samurai sword. You can guess what happened. Focus on the tomato. What happened to it? Begin your answer with "It". You can obviously use the verb "cut" but "slice" might be a better choice here.

What happened to the tomato?

It ............

The next question is a little more difficult. What happened to the top half of the tomato?


In the first case, we use the passive voice because the tomato didn't do anything. It received the action:

It was sliced was sliced in half by a samurai sword.

In the second case, active voice is necessary, since the top half of the tomato did move after the sword passed through the tomato:

It slid off the bottom of the tomato and fell down. (The bottom half fell afterward.)

Showing off your own video

If you have a short video or an idea that you think would work to illustrate an English verb form, you can connect us through twitter or contact me directly at:

If you have a finished video, you can upload it to a site like Youtube so we can have a look at it. We can then embed it on a page on our site as well. Make a short lesson together with your video so users can understand the main point.

You can also point out videos that you find online that might be useful for understanding verbforms.

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