The Project as the Subject

Place focus to the collective work

a gene close up

Intermediate – Advanced

 

 

 

Agent vs. Object Focus

AGENT FOCUS

Reporting information with active sentences is preferred whenever possible because the inclusion of the agent(s) is more personal; and the use of active verbs is more dynamic. However, sometimes there are too many agents to list and the collective work is the actual focus. 

Scientists have mapped the human genome.

Scientists have determined three billion base-pairs of DNA

Scientists expect this knowledge to lead to better treatments for diseases like cancer and diabetes.

Everyone must link this discover to responsible use.

PROJECT FOCUS

In science, business, and other collaborative fields, writers place the project in the subject position and the workers in a by phrase or a list at the end of the writing. This effectively shifts the focus to the interesting, important content and avoids repetition of the agent(s).

The human genome has been mapped by scientists.

Three billion base-pairs of DNA were determined. (by scientists who are too many to list)

This knowledge is expected to lead to better treatments for diseases like cancer and diabetes.  (by an unknown future research team)

The discovery must be linked to responsible use.  (by everyone)

 

NOVA, PBS. "Cracking the Code of Life". http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/genome/program.html
Wikipedia, "The Human Genome Project". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Genome_Project

 

Terms

 

The passive is used when:

  1. the receiver (object or indirect object) is the focus
  2. the agents are too many to list
  3. the agent(s) is/ are unknown
  4. the agent is not specific (everyone in general)
  5. the agent is secret / not being revealed

 

 

 

 

 

Active / Passive

Word Order

 

 

ACTIVE

To change focus, the speaker changes word order by leading with the object and sometimes the indirect object.

WORKERS ACTIVE VERB PROJECT
     

Everyone  

expected

a cure.

     
PASSIVE

The agent, the person or thing that causes the action, moves after the verb.  The receiver, the person or thing affected by the action, moves before the verb.

PROJECT PASSIVE VERB WORKERS
  move after the verb  

A cure

is expected

(by everyone).

  move after the verb  
 

cure (n.) – a medicine or therapy to end a health problem

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passive

Agreement & Tense

 

 

 

SINGULAR
PRESENT

A cancer cure is discovered.

PRESENT PROGRESSIVE

A cancer cure is being discovered.

PAST

A cancer cure was discovered.

PAST PROGRESSIVE

A cancer cure was being discovered.

PRESENT PERFECT

A cancer cure has been discovered.

PAST PERFECT

A cancer cure hadn't been discovered before then.

PLURAL
PRESENT

Cancer treatments are discovered.

PRESENT PROGRESSIVE

Cancer treatments are being discovered.

PAST

Cancer treatments were discovered.

PAST PROGRESSIVE

Cancer treatments were being discovered.

PRESENT PERFECT

Cancer treatments have been discovered.

PAST PERFECT

Cancer treatments hadn't been discovered before then.

 

Also see Irregular Participle Practice

 

 

 

An Exception — a complicated word form

ACTIVE PASSIVE

The present perfect progressive is a complex verb form with two auxiliaries. The passive form is too complex to use.  It is simplified to the present progressive passive or the present perfect passive.

When changing a present perfect progressive sentence to passive, the speaker or writer must decide if the activity is more at the moment (present progressive) or more related to the past (present perfect)

Explorers have been mapping the land forms under the south pole.

 

(This complex word from is simplified to present perfect or present progressive.)

*The land forms have been being mapped.    

The land forms have been mapped.    have been being is just too complicated to use!

The land forms are being mapped.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

A discovery was happened when they tried a new method.

The change was lasted for just a few minutes.

SOLUTION

A discovery happened when…

The change lasted for just a few minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Gene Mapping Project

DNA gene coding

advanced

 

 

 

Read the Context

Completed in 2003, the Human Genome Project (HGP) was a 13-year project coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health.

During the early years of the Human Genome Project, the Wellcome Trust (U.K.) became a major partner; additional contributions came from Japan, France, Germany, China, and others. 

Though the Human Genome Project is finished, analyses of the data will continue for many years. Human Genome Project

Project goals were to:

  • identify all the approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in human DNA,
  • determine the sequences of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA,
  • store this information in databases,
  • improve tools for data analysis,
  • transfer related technologies to the private sector, and
  • address the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) that may arise from the project.

analysis (n.) – take apart and examine elements

gene therapy – is the use of DNA as a pharmaceutical agent to treat disease

benefits – aspects (things) that are favorable, good, advantageous

the human genome – the complete set of human genetic information, stored as DNA sequences within the 23 chromosome pairs of the cell nucleus

molecular biology – the branch of biology that deals with the molecular basis of biological activity

private sector – nongoverment funded research

 

 

 

 

Transform the sentence. Place the focus on the project.

  1. Edit the sentence in the textbox. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or "Check 1-10" button at the bottom.

 

1.
Molecular biologists study genes.


2.
Scientists are researching gene therapy for use in cancer treatment.


3.
International teams of scientists mapped genes. 


4.
Scientists were mapping the human genome.


5.
Scientist have mapped the human genome. (the entire DNA set)


6.
Scientists have been examining the human genome.


7.
Research scientists will develop medical uses.


8.
Scientists can adapt this knowledge to treat diseases.


9.
The medical community must protect individual privacy.


10.
Employers should not be able to use personal genetic information in deciding whether or not to hire someone.


11.
Doctors want to tell their patients about health benefits.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

How Will We Use this Precious Genetic Map?

 

 

Read for Errors

The issue of how we will use human genomics divides many people. Health insurance companies could refuse coverage of individuals with genetic illnesses. The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Trust supported The Human Genome Project. Everyone expects this to revolutionize the practice of medicine.  We must protect individual privacy as science moves forward with this project.

Researchers took a poll to find out if people wanted to know their genome. Sixty per cent of the people said that they want a doctor to inform them of their genetic "defects". Scientists are proposing rules that will govern the use of personal genomes. In the sequencing phase, researchers identified the approximately 3.5 billion chemical letters (A, C, G, T).

genetic defect – faulty genes, imperfect genes

genome – the complete set of human genetic information, stored as DNA sequences within the 23 chromosome pairs of the cell nucleus

issue – subject of disagreement

poll (n.) – a sampling or a collection of opinions; (v.) to collect opinions

refuse coverage – will not insure, include as an insured item

revolutionize – bring about radical change

 

 

 

 

Determine which word can complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or "Check 12-20" button at the bottom.

 

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.