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I want to say that current standards in education are not tha same as they were in some time in the past. I wonder if I should use the passive or active voice here.

  1. A lot of standards in education have changed since I was a student.
  2. A lot of standards in education have been changed since I was a student.

Which one is preferable? I think that second option with passive voice is correct, because education standards can't change themselves. However, I wonder if there're any cases in which we could use the first one.

  • Though standards can't technically change themselves, but "standards have changed" is perfectly grammatical in English. This is, in my opinion, similar to the verb become. We can say that something has become another something even when someone or something else was the cause of the change. Also related: "middle voice", e.g. This book reads well. This car drives better than the last one. It sells like crazy! etc. – Damkerng T. Jun 13 '15 at 17:10
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I prefer 1, actually. Change is an inherently passive thing, you can't stop change, change happens for its own sake. It's perfectly fine to say "standards have changed" because standards are always changing.

It's like "events have happened." The events themselves have no power to happen or not. There are plenty of fictional events that never happened except in books, and the event itself can't change that. Happening is an agent, it is the bringing into reality itself.

That said, 2 is grammatical, but less poetic. It calls to mind that there is a process to change standards, and that process has happened, instead of just saying that things are different now, and it doesn't matter why.

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Have changed It gives idea of action of education changed is completed. Also you should not use time expression in present perfect tense.

Has been changed It gives idea of period of changing education. It means it is changing since you were a student. You can use time expression in present perfect tense.

  • 1
    The question is about passive and active form of the sentence and not about tenses. – Roman Dryndik Jun 13 '15 at 17:21

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