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English contains a wide variety of communication modes speakers have to choose from when they communicate. The functions of meaning, mood, and voice provide examples of these choices.   

    Speakers have choices in which they can describe what they are talking about.


Experiential meaning explains what the sentence is about.

Jack and Rose were two young people aboard the Titanic. 

  Textual meaning indicates the replacement of a noun phrase with  a pronoun, presupposing knowledge of the context on the part of speaker and listener.

They met and fell in love.

Interpersonal meaning involves the ways in which we act upon one another through language, asking questions, requesting information, getting people to do things, offering to do things, etc.  It implies a dialogue between two people.

"Is there a rescue ship on the way?"

"May I help you put on your life vest?"

"Quick! Turn the ship to starboard!"

Speakers can elect to make a statement, ask a question, give a command, or make an expletive.   


These sentences could all be used at the same time to communicate what is happening by the people on the Titanic as it sinks.


"The Titanic is sinking."


"Are there enough lifeboats?" 


"Get a life vest quickly and put it on!" 


"Help my husband," screamed a woman. "He can't swim!"

Speakers can choose between active and passive voice.  Passive voice is most often used in explaining scientific or quasi-scientific processes.  


Traditional formal grammars introduce two voices: active and passive.  

Active Voice   

Survivors of the sinking of the Titanic developed a fear of sailing.

The cold air cooled the passengers' tempers. 

The chef on the Titanic had condensed milk for a pudding which was never served. 

Passive Voice

The film of the movie, Titanic, was developed as soon as it was shot.

The water pouring into the sinking ship in the movie was warmed for the comfort of the actors.  

The many hours of film that were shot were condensed into three hours of movie time.

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