Academic Writing

Features of academic writing

Complexity

Passive verbs

In spoken English we often use a subject such as "people", "somebody", "they", "we", or "you" even when we do not know who the agent is. In formal English, particularly writing, we often prefer to use a passive.

Compare:

They're installing the new computer system next month.
The new computer system is being installed next month. (more formal)

Examples

D. J. Wrench is one of the few to have considered in any detail what happened after the National Government was formed.
The first National Government was not intended to be a coalition government in the normal sense of the term.
Proteins acting in this way are called `enzymes"; their method of working is described on p. 61. Of course, these enzymes are also coded for by a DNA gene in the nucleus.
Much attention has been focused on the concept of "reasonable excuse", where the courts have attempted to impose a fairly stringent test on persons whose reason for carrying a weapon is said to be fear of attack.

Try these exercises: Exercise 1Exercise 2Exercise 3