English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Which one is the right sentence for a paper?

We believe that our method can be an informed choice to use as starter program for...

We believe that our method can be an informed choice to be used as starter program for...

share|improve this question
I’m afraid that proofreading is explicitly off-topic here. See the FAQ for details, and tips how to rewrite your question into something that would be acceptable. – tchrist Dec 9 '12 at 19:45
I don't understand either sentence. Please give more context. – Matt E. Эллен Dec 10 '12 at 13:11
@tchrist: this is not a proofreading question, it's a word-choice question. (Looking at the edit history, this was clearly not a proofreading question even as it was originally asked.) – Marthaª Dec 10 '12 at 23:47

Both sentences are grammatically and semantically acceptable (with the minor quibbles, how can a method be a choice? and, how is a method a program?), but both are clumsy. Instead say (eg)

We believe our method is useful as a starter program for...
We believe our method is a useful starter program for...

share|improve this answer
Thank you very much. – A.Gh Dec 9 '12 at 19:38

Although both are syntactically and semantically correct, active (voice) is more vivid and thus more noticed in paper.

share|improve this answer
That may be true; nevertheless, the passive voice is sometimes preferable. – Robusto Dec 10 '12 at 2:28
I think preference may be in the case where there exists a tendency to hide (or set behind the scene) the actor(for malevolence,incognizance,politeness and other special case only). – SIslam Dec 10 '12 at 3:04

The passive version I think is awkward or even ungrammatical because the general construction being employed requires a transitive verb. The suggestion usually found in style manuals to avoid the passive is irrelevant here.

Why do I think so? Let's call the construction we are dealing with the "Triumph insult comic dog construction," recalling the highly memorable sentence:

You have been a great audience ... for me to poop on.

Basically, there is a main copula clause where the copula complement is a noun phrase modified by some value-indicating adjective, viz., good, great, well-informed. A clausal complement of the formula for NP to VP/NP follows (VP/NP means a VP from which a daughter NP is missing). Some examples.

College is a good choice for Thomas to pursue.
Toyota is a great company for you to work for.
The bible is an ideal book for children to read.

In the preceding examples, the complement clause contains a "gap," and the subject of the matrix clause is understood to fill it. i.e., the sentences contain these propositions:

Thomas pursues college.
You work for Toyota.
Children read the bible.

Another variant of the construction is one where the subject noun phrase of the complement clause is omitted, and so is for, as in:

College is a good choice to pursue.
Toyota is a great company to work for.
The bible is an ideal book to read.

These types of sentences are always interpreted with the copula subject being the object or (prepositional object) of the complement clause, and NOT the subject of the complement clause, even though the subject is left unspecified. Due to this restriction, complement clauses cannot contain an intransitive verb. All of the following sound very odd:

??Thomas is the right person to fall asleep.
??Thomas is the perfect candidate to faint.
??Horses are good animals to whinny.

Therefore I would differ with the other responders who say that the passive voice version is OK, since passives are intransitives.

(Note that a variant of the construction can have the copula subject as a transitive subject of the complement clause, e.g., Thomas is a favorite to win the Pulitzer prize.)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.