Quick quiz. Which of these sentences are passive? (There may be more than one.)
1) There were a great number of dead leaves on the ground.
2) At dawn the crowing of the rooster could be heard.
3) The reason he left college was that his health became impaired.
4) It was not long before she was very sorry that she had said what she had.
All these sentences are given as examples of the passive in Strunk and White, showing that even those who proclaim themselves as expert often don’t know the passive when it smacks them in the face. Only the second is passive, but S & W thought they all were. Orwell, who also decried the passive, had trouble recognizing it. Despite the fact that he claimed to abhor it, he used it about twice as often as other writers of his era.