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I have a question mainly regarding whether my sentence is active or passive. But also I would like to ask if it has a bad structure?

A piece of paper with a couple of paragraphs almost entirely covering it, except near the bottom where a straight horizontal line is occupying the space, is placed before me. It was a young, blonde woman, who in turn handed me a pen, then staring me deeply in the eyes, carrying a big smile on her face, she uttered a few encouraging phrases to convince me that I am doing the right thing.

Okay, so firstly I can feel myself that it feels kind of weird reading it and slightly confusing. I am guessing I should be writing it this way rather?

A piece of paper almost entirely covered with a couple of paragraphs, except near the bottom where a straight horizontal line is occupying the space, is placed before me. It was a young, blonde woman, who in turn handed me a pen, then staring me deeply in the eyes, carrying a big smile on her face, she uttered a few encouraging phrases to convince me that I am doing the right thing.

Would it now make more sense? I am assuming what I did was turn it from passive to active (I just go to know about this so I'm still slightly fresh on that subject). Should there still be any changes in that first sentence? Then to the next issue, when I start the second sentence with "It was a young, blond woman..." I am implying that she was placing the paper, does this make sense or is it badly structured?

Are there any problems with the tenses? I'm at present but I catch myself using "handed" etc and I'm not sure if this is wrong. My teacher has noted that I am mixing them a bit.

Edit with the tenses fixed:

A piece of paper almost entirely covered with a couple of paragraphs, except near the bottom where a straight horizontal line is occupying the space, is placed before me. It was a young, blonde woman, who in turn hands me a pen, then staring me deeply in the eyes, carrying a big smile on her face, she utters a few encouraging phrases to convince me that I am doing the right thing.

closed as off-topic by Peter Shor , Edwin Ashworth, Lynn, Chenmunka, Robusto Oct 3 '14 at 0:24

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

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  • The second sentence is problematic, it consists of two sentences run together with a comma splice. Also, your tenses weren't consistent. – Peter Shor Oct 1 '14 at 20:22
  • @PeterShor Yes thank you, I just updated my question to ask about the tenses. Would you please elaborate? – Colandus Oct 1 '14 at 20:23
  • Is this happening now (a piece of paper is placed before me?). Or did it happen in the past (she uttered a few encouraging phrases). – Peter Shor Oct 1 '14 at 20:24
  • @PeterShor Alright thanks, got it. Is it fine now regarding the tenses? Also, could you be more specific about the problematics of the sentence? Is it because it doesn't rightly adress her and could you suggest a fix? You may make a proper answer so I can mark it as well. – Colandus Oct 1 '14 at 20:28
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First, what you present is not one sentence.
It's several sentences, and it's not immediately clear what they have to do with one another.
Since the question is about active and passive, I'll restrict my discussion to the first sentence.

  • A piece of paper with Description is placed before me.

This is a passive sentence, and is related to the active sentence

  • Indef placed a piece of paper with Description before me.
    where Indef means the person who did the paper-placing.

In all three of the examples given above, the first sentence is passive.
Also in all of them, it is not clear what the relation of the first sentence is to the second one.

I suspect this is is not an answer to the question that should have been asked.
But clearly the OP doesn't know how to ask that question.

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Roughly, active means the subject is doing something itself; passive means that the subject is the recipient of the action. In your example, most of the sentences are passive and a bit meandering as a result. Here's a rewording, recasting everything as active, and disentangling the overly-complex structure of the sentences.

A young blonde woman places a piece of paper in front of me: it is almost entirely covered with a couple paragraphs of text, except for a single horizontal line across the bottom. She smiles broadly, hands me a pen, looks deeply into my eyes, and says a few encouraging words to convince me I'm doing the right thing.

The woman places the paper, the paper is described, and then she does several actions to convince you. Everything either is something or does something.

  • To attain active voice throughout, I think you would have to recast "it is almost entirely covered with a couple paragraphs of text, except for a single horizontal line across the bottom" as something like "a couple of paragraphs of text and a single horizontal line across the bottom almost entirely cover the page." – Sven Yargs Oct 1 '14 at 22:12
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    @SvenYargs I think that's more a copula with a past participle as an adjective. It's true the two are hard to differentiate and often are completely ambiguous, but since there's no agent and it doesn't to be being covered in the moment, I think the copula interpretation is better. – guifa Oct 1 '14 at 22:44
  • I think you're right, and thanks for the correction. – Joe McMahon Oct 2 '14 at 20:05
  • Sven, yes, that is probably more technically correct than my choice. I struggled with rewording that and went for the description that focused on the paper rather than its contents, as I felt that the scene-setting was more critical. – Joe McMahon Oct 8 '14 at 19:32
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Taking your final version with corrected tenses:

A piece of paper almost entirely covered with a couple of paragraphs, except near the bottom where a straight horizontal line is occupying the space, is placed before me. It was a young, blonde woman, who in turn hands me a pen, then staring me deeply in the eyes, carrying a big smile on her face, she utters a few encouraging phrases to convince me that I am doing the right thing.

Only your first sentence ("A piece of paper ... is placed before me.") is passive. None of the rest are.

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