What is the need of using the passive form, for instance:

These lines have been taken from the poem XYZ.


These lines have taken from XYZ.

What's the reason behind it?

  • Ehm, the lines haven't taken anything. If you don't want to use passive sense, you should say "I have taken these lines from ..." – Mr Lister Apr 1 '16 at 16:23
  • Your second sentence (These lines have taken from XYZ.) is not grammatically correct. You can say These lines are taken from XYZ. – Alan Carmack Apr 1 '16 at 16:28
  • @StoneyB, I agree that the reference you quoted does answer the question but ... it's a bit technical, isn't it? – JavaLatte Apr 1 '16 at 17:20

A normal sentence looks like this.

the boy stole the apple.

It says who is doing something, it says what they are doing, and it says what it was done to. All the information you need to know what happened: perfect.

But sometimes we don't know, or don't want to say, who stole the apple, or you are more concerned about the apple than about the person who stole it. We could say

Somebody stole the apple.

Or we could use the passive voice

The apple was stolen.

If it was your apple and you are thinking bad thoughts about the person who stole it, you will go for the first option.

If you are more upset about the apple and you are not concerned who stole it, you want to focus on the apple so you put it first: the second option- passive form- is what you need.

In spoken English, passive mood is used, but it's less common than you might think if you look at written English- especially formal or technical writing.

For formal writing, people try to avoid repeatedly saying "I did this" then "I did that": see the "I and we" section fo this style guide, and passive form is perfect for this- you don't have to say who did it. If you just restrict it to avoiding references to yourself, it's fine: but if you get stuck in passive mood, you end up with a story that has more whodunnits than a murder mystery.

There is no way of finding out from these sentences alone why the author used passive mood for the sentences you provided. Maybe he doesn't want to say "I": maybe he feels that it is unimportant who chose the lines- he simply wants to report where the lines came from.

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