supergee pointed to This blog was posted by me, a blog post on the passive voice.
The author states that reasons to use the passive voice include:
- To hide information about who was responsible (ysabetwordsmith refers to this particular subset of passive voice as "passive exonerative" and gives as the canonical example "Mistakes were made").
- When you don't know who was responsible.
- To downplay the information or save it for later.
- Stylistic choice, especially in reports.
Specifically, the sentence "The window was broken" is passive.
Is it still passive in this longer sentence? "The window was broken when John walked into the hotel room, so he called maintenance." What if I change "window" to "thermostat", since thermostats are more likely than windows to stop working without anyone actually breaking them?