Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Transcript

Jonathan: In this lesson, you will learn how to explain a somewhat complicated political process using active voice.
Dede: This conversation takes place at work between Mark and Sheila. Sheila is a bit confused about why something happened and Mark is explaining it to her.
Jonathan: The language is a bit formal but not too stuffy.
Dede: Let’s listen to the conversation!
Dede:

Lesson conversation

Sheila: I don't understand. Why did we abandon the bill?
Mark: There was no possibility that Congress could pass it.
Sheila: What do you mean? We have a majority in the House and the Senate!
Mark: That's true, but our majority isn't filibuster-proof.
Sheila: But the bill already survived the House! We worked really hard to pass it!
Mark: I know, I know...but the fact of the matter is that we don't have sixty votes in the Senate.
Sheila: (sighs) But we aren't even trying to get it through!
Mark: The leadership said that they would filibuster any legislation that even smells like a tax hike. It would be a waste of time.
Sheila: Ugh...it's just so frustrating!
Mark: Chill out, Sheila! You still have a job! It will be okay!
Sheila: I know...I just put a lot of effort into that bill; it's sad to see that it was for naught.
English Host: Let’s hear the conversation one time slowly.
Sheila: I don't understand. Why did we abandon the bill?
Mark: There was no possibility that Congress could pass it.
Sheila: What do you mean? We have a majority in the House and the Senate!
Mark: That's true, but our majority isn't filibuster-proof.
Sheila: But the bill already survived the House! We worked really hard to pass it!
Mark: I know, I know...but the fact of the matter is that we don't have sixty votes in the Senate.
Sheila: (sighs) But we aren't even trying to get it through!
Mark: The leadership said that they would filibuster any legislation that even smells like a tax hike. It would be a waste of time.
Sheila: Ugh...it's just so frustrating!
Mark: Chill out, Sheila! You still have a job! It will be okay!
Sheila: I know...I just put a lot of effort into that bill; it's sad to see that it was for naught.
POST CONVERSATION BANTER
Dede: The Senate and the House of the United States Congress have a lot of differences.
Jonathan: Historically, the Senate is smaller and usually the Senators have had more personal relationships with each other, which has allowed more bi-partisan work to get be done.
Dede: Because of its small size and relative flexibility, the rules for debate and discussion are very different.
Jonathan: In the House, there is a specific amount of time that each Representative can talk about a bill and they cannot use more than their own time.
Dede: However, in the Senate, every Senator is allowed to speak as long as he or she desires and it takes 60 (out of 100) votes to stop debate on a bill.
Jonathan: In the House, a simple majority can stop discussion, but the Senate requires 60%. A Senator can talk without stopping in order to stop a bill from being passed, a strategy known as “filibustering”.
Dede: Until recently, Senators rarely used this tactic, but now it seems as if almost every action by the Congress must be approved by 60 votes in the Senate.
Jonathan: The listeners must feel that we are filibustering them by now though!
Dede: Yeah! Let’s move onto the vocabulary!
Vocabulary and Phrases
Dede: Let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
: The first word we shall see is:
Jonathan: to abandon [natural native speed]
Dede: to leave, to allow to die, to ignore
Jonathan: to abandon [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: to abandon [natural native speed]
: Next:
Jonathan: possibility [natural native speed]
Dede: chance, opportunity
Jonathan: possibility [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: possibility [natural native speed]
: Next:
Jonathan: filibuster [natural native speed]
Dede: a legislative strategy in the Senate that prevents a bill from being passed by not allowing debate to end on a bill
Jonathan: filibuster [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: filibuster [natural native speed]
: Next:
Jonathan: -proof [natural native speed]
Dede: resistant to something
Jonathan: -proof [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: -proof [natural native speed]
: Next:
Jonathan: to survive [natural native speed]
Dede: to live through, to persist after
Jonathan: to survive [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: to survive [natural native speed]
: Next:
Jonathan: fact [natural native speed]
Dede: true statement, actuality
Jonathan: fact [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: fact [natural native speed]
: Next:
Jonathan: to smell like [natural native speed]
Dede: to appear to be
Jonathan: to smell like [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: to smell like [natural native speed]
: Next:
Jonathan: tax hike [natural native speed]
Dede: a raise in taxes
Jonathan: tax hike [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: tax hike [natural native speed]
: Next:
Jonathan: naught [natural native speed]
Dede: nothing
Jonathan: naught [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: naught [natural native speed]
: Next:
Jonathan: to chill [natural native speed]
Dede: to cool down
Jonathan: to chill [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Jonathan: to chill [natural native speed]
KEY VOCABULARY AND PHRASES
Dede: Let's have a closer look at the usuage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
Jonathan: The first word/phrase we’ll look at is....
Dede: Well that’s all the words from this lesson. Let’s take a closer look at two of the phrases we saw.
Jonathan: Why don’t you get us started?
Dede: "smells like", which in this context means that something appears to be like something else.
Jonathan: Mark says “they would filibuster any legislation that even smells like a tax hike”..Even if it is not exactly the same, if they share characteristics or traits, we can use the term “smells like”.
Dede: We have to be careful though, because usually it is not a positive indication.
Jonathan: Yup, what’s next?
Dede: Mark tells Sheila to “Chill out”.
Jonathan: This is a slang or jargon way to tell someone to relax. It is quite informal and suggests that they “cool down”.
Jonathan: Yeah, like the time I got really excited about that new video game and wouldn’t stop talking about it.
Dede: Haha, yeah, I told you to chill out!
Jonathan: Alright then, I think that brings us to…
Dede: My favorite part.
Jonathan: Hey chill out, it’s just the grammar!

Lesson focus

Dede: The focus of this lesson is using active voice.
Jonathan: Mark says “There was no possibility that Congress could pass it.”
Dede: Quite a while ago, we discussed the use of passive voice when we are emphasizing the object of action rather than the actor.
Jonathan: We did say then, however, that active voice is a much more common and clear way of communicating.
Dede: When we are writing, it is almost always preferable to use active voice rather than passive voice. Using active voice allows the reader or listener greater clarity about the actor and the action.
Jonathan: Unlike with passive voice, which can use an implied subject, active voice always clearly states the actor. Let’s look at some examples of converting passive phrases into active ones
Dede: The bill was passed by Congress.
Jonathan: We could rephrase this by saying…
Dede: Congress passed the bill.
Jonathan: Yep!
Dede: What about “The wedding cake is being eaten by the dog.”
Jonathan: We could say “The dog is eating the wedding cake.”
Dede: It is pretty clear in these examples who or what is doing the action, so it is not so difficult for us to convert the phrases into active voice.
Jonathan: However, in other situations, passive voice does not use a subject and it is more difficult to convert into active voice.
Dede: In this case, it is best to ask who or what did the action and then make an active phrase.
Jonathan: Like the phrase…
Dede: "The computer was repaired."
Jonathan: We should ask who repaired the computer.
Dede: An IT company of course!
Jonathan: Oh ok, so in active voice we can say, “An IT company repaired the computer.”
Dede: Right, what about one more.
Jonathan: OK, “The test is being given out to the students”
Dede: Who is giving out the test?
Jonathan: Hmm, the teacher I guess.
Dede: Great, so we can say “The teacher is giving out the test to the students."
Jonathan: Sometimes we have a situation where we know that an object has had an action done to it, but we are not sure whom or what exactly did it.
Dede: In these cases, it is sometimes best to leave the sentence in passive voice.
Jonathan: However, we can make an active voice phrase by using “something” or ”someone” as the subject of the sentence.
Dede: Right! Like when the rice in my cabinet was being eaten!
Jonathan: Yeah, you don’t know what was eating it so you could say…
Dede: "Something was eating the rice in my cabinet."
Jonathan: Or when we were talking about the wheel.
Dede: Yeah, the wheel was invented thousands of years ago.
Jonathan: But we don’t know who, so we can say…
Dede: "Someone invented the wheel thousands of years ago."
Jonathan: Using someone or something is not ideal as it makes you seem a bit like you don’t know what you are talking about.
Dede: When writing, especially for a work or academic situation, be sure to do your best and get the information as much as you can to use active voice appropriately.
Jonathan: But if you can’t understand it, use a “some” word or if it sounds strange you can leave it in passive voice.
Dede: I think that finishes it up!
Jonathan: We hoped you enjoyed this lesson.
Dede: Be sure to check out EnglishClass101.com for constantly updated English materials.
Jonathan: And remember to come back soon for more fun and informative lessons. Bye bye.
Dede: See you soon!

7 Comments

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EnglishClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Hello Listeners! Can you make a sample passive sentence and change it to an active sentence?

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 02:46 PM
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Hello Filip,


Greetings to you in Mexico!


We’re very happy to have you here.


If you ever have any questions, please let us know! 😉


Sincerely,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

Filip
Tuesday at 11:44 AM
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Hi from Mexico,


Passive sentence:

My english leaning was sped up.


Active sentence:

The Fast Track to fluency lesson Checklist sped up my english learning.


Regards!

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Friday at 09:44 AM
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Hello Az Ho,


Thank you very much for your cute emoji message and hearts!😇❤️️

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

We wish you good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

Levente

Team EnglishClass101.com

Az Ho
Thursday at 04:03 PM
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❤️️😈❤️️

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 04:59 PM
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Hello Zakaria,


Thanks for taking the time to write to us!


It's always great to hear from our students.


Feel free to ask us any questions you have throughout your studies.


Sincerely,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

zakaria
Friday at 07:13 PM
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passive voice : the meal was eaten


active voice : my best friend has eaten the meal