The use of passive voice has long been an area of difficulty for English learners. Celce-Murcia & Larsen-Freeman (2015) noted that it is learning when to use the English passive that presents the greatest long-term challenge to ESL/EFL students (p. 352). Because textbooks are a source of language input for English learners, this study investigated the frequency of passive voice verbs in samples from four academic textbooks in courses commonly taken by freshmen. The study also examined whether there are significant differences between the frequencies by textbook. The data was collected from four General Education Plan (GEP) subject textbooks used in freshman classes at a large metropolitan university in the southeastern United States, namely English composition, history, psychology, and biology. The data was then compiled into a corpus of approximately 20,000 words created specifically for the current study, with 5,000 words randomly and sequentially selected from each of the four textbooks. The study utilized a table created by Folse (2009) to analyze differences between the basic passive voice tenses found in the textbooks. The study examined the be-passives, get-passives, and have-passives and their frequency in different tenses. The findings revealed that passive voice occurred in academic textbooks with an overall frequency of 7.06% (of all conjugated verbs). The results also found significant differences between the academic genres (p lt& 0.05). In this particular corpus, passive voice occurred more in biology than in the other subjects. Therefore, the results of the study indicated a need to explicitly teach the basic be-passive voice to English language learners to all English learners, but teachers also need to be especially aware that certain university subjects (e.g., biology) use more passive voice verb forms than others.
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Moreb, Basma, "The Frequency of the Passive Voice in Freshman Academic Books" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5429.