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I want to know if there is any little difference between two given sentences.

  1. The focus of the writers has been moved towards the use of metaphors in their writings

  2. The focus of the writers has moved towards the use of metaphors in their writings

Which one is correct, or can the both sentences stand correct in their given grammatical structure?

  • 1
    A better word than "moved" would be "shifted"—particularly with 2. – ralph.m Nov 30 '15 at 12:42
  • @ralph.m There is another question: if I say, " The focus of the writers and artists has shifted towards the use of metaphors in their writing." In the given sentence, would the right choice be "has" or "have"? – Umer Malik Dec 1 '15 at 17:34
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    It's "has", because the subject is still "focus", which is singular. – ralph.m Dec 1 '15 at 21:49
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[1] The focus of the writers has been moved towards the use of metaphors in their writings.

[2] The focus of the writers has moved towards the use of metaphors in their writings.

There is indeed a difference. [1] is an agentless passive clause; agentless because it doesn’t say who or what it is that has caused the focus of the writers to move. Taken in isolation, it’s likely that someone reading that sentence would be left wondering about the identity of the entity or entities involved.

The active clause [2] on the other hand merely states the fact that the focus of the writers has moved. There’s no hint that some unspecified person or thing one has caused the focus to move, and the reader is likely to simply accept the fact and move on.

Both sentences are grammatically okay.

  • This is what I was actually expecting as an answer. In the first sentence, I didn't mention the doer of the action because I thought it was not necessary to mention the doer of the action. – Umer Malik Nov 29 '15 at 16:53
  • Umer Malik, Then consider the impact of omitting the agent on the reader, as I said. What do you consider to be the theme in each of your examples? – BillJ Nov 29 '15 at 17:04
  • I have read on few grammar websites that it is not necessary to mention the doer of the action if one is going to use passive voice. Second, I just wanted to know if both sentences were grammatically correct or not. Well, I like your answer. – Umer Malik Nov 29 '15 at 17:09
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The 2nd one is correct. The 2nd one speaks of the "focus" moving by itself and is, therefore, correct. On the other hand, 1st sentence says that the "focus" did not move by itself; it has been moved by some human agency. Obviously, the 1st one is not correct.

  • "The increased quest for abstraction in society has moved the writers' focus towards the use of metaphors." Why couldn't focus be moved by an external agent (not necessarily human, by the way - where did you get that idea?) – oerkelens Nov 29 '15 at 16:46
  • In the first sentence, the whole emphasis of the sentence is on "focus" that's why I used passive voice in the 1st sentence. – Umer Malik Nov 29 '15 at 16:47
  • @Dinesh Maybe the focus of the writers was moved by some human agency (e.g. their editor). I wouldn't say that the first sentence sounds completely naturally but it's not incorrect. – anotherdave Nov 30 '15 at 12:18

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