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Did you know that there are three voices?

Voice and Ergativity

Traditional formal grammars introduce two  voices: active and passive. There is a middle voice that teachers and students should be aware of. 

 

Only a few verbs can create the middle voice; these verbs are known as ergative verbs.  Ergativity is expressed when there is a single participant that both causes and receives the action. Ergative verbs are a limited number of verbs with a three-voice option: active voice, middle voice, or passive voice.

 

Active Voice   

The movie team developed the script for the Titanic. 

The crew on the Titanic warmed the tea for the passengers. 

The chef condensed the milk to a thick pudding.   

Middle Voice   

The actor warmed himself in a hot tub.

The passengers' breath condensed into frost.

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.