Re: E-Prime (Passive Voice)

Subject: Re: E-Prime (Passive Voice)
From: Paul Trummel <trummel -at- U -dot- WASHINGTON -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 1994 07:24:22 -0800

On Thu, 10 Feb 1994 Bonni_Graham_at_Enfin-SD -at- PROTEON -dot- COM wrote:

> Jim, please give at least me more detail about E-Prime. I wanna
> discuss it, but I don't know nuthin about it -- and I wanna learn.

The term e-prime relates to a style of writing that eliminates all use of
the verb "to be" (is, was, were, am, been, being, and are). Consequently, it
precludes use of the passive voice.

E-prime also eliminates:

1. The "is" of identity.
2. The "is" of prediction.
3. The "is" of passivity.

I believe that it helps writers, originally taught to write in the passive
voice, to change to a more active style of writing. It also creates an
understandable algorithm for translation of scientific German into English.

Additionally, e-prime has attributes that have become widely used in
psychotherapy because it eliminates the expressions "I am" and "you are".

As an example, I have written this message in e-prime and
have not used the verb "to be."

I recommend the book:

BOURLAND, D. David, Jr. and JOHNSTON, Paul Dennithorne (eds)
To Be or Not: An E-Prime Anthology
San Francisco, CA: International Society for General Semantics

for further information on this topic.

Paul Trummel

Department of Technical Communication
University of Washington

email: trummel -at- u -dot- washington -dot- edu
fax: 206-227-9486
vox: 206-227-9486

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