Followings are the excerpt from an almanac, explaining the state of Vermont, U.S. Should the expression "were so opposed" read "so opposed"?

Vermont is particularly known for the independent nature of its people. They were so opposed to slavery that the Georgia legislature once voted humorously that “…the whole state should be made into an island and towed out to sea.”


(This is an old question ... but it was bumped, so ...)

Both the question and the given answer from @cbh have misunderstood the actual quoted text that's the context of the question.

As pointed out in the comment by @whitecap in this context 'opposed' is not fulfilling the function of a verb - therefore the title of the question ("oppose", active or passive voice?) doesn't really make sense. In addition to the link in Whitecap's comment see this link which has some more information.

In terms of the OP's question whether 'were so opposed' should be replaced by 'so opposed' -- that would not stop opposed from functioning as an adjective. However it would not work in the way it has been suggested, instead the replacement would have to change 'were so opposed to' to 'so opposed'.

So the following two constructs would work:

They were so opposed to slavery that ...

They so opposed slavery that ...

In both constructs the word 'opposed' functions as an adjective and therefore the use of active or passive voice is irrelevant.

(The OP may have been confused by the use of 'were' which is not indicating a passive voice, but rather an imperfect tense (ongoing state at a point of time in the past)).

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  • to be precise, in "were opposed" the verb is a linking verb. – Mary Jul 4 at 14:15

To be opposed to something has roughly the same meaning as to oppose something. Both of these phrases are used commonly in spoken and written English. They are typically interchangeable; if there is a difference, it is a subtle one, and is simply that the active verb may make the subject sound a bit more active in their opposition.

In this particular phrase, the word so is also important, as the next phrase is used to show how much they opposed slavery. While you can also modify verbs with so, ("they so opposed slavery...") doing so can sound excessively formal or literary. Instead, if you wanted to use the active oppose, I would rewrite the sentence using the phrase so strongly (or perhaps another adverb, if there is one that better expresses the nature of their opposition).

They opposed slavery so strongly that....

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