Yesterday I bought a Father's Day card for my dear husband. Of course, I don't have to recognize him on Father's Day, but he is a wonderful father to our daughter and a terrific partner. So I wanted to get him a card.
I found one in the "husband" section of the greeting cards. It started out perfectly: "For a wonderful husband and father who gives so much . . . his time, his heart, his all, his best." It continued well on the inside of the card until it got to the last sentence:
"You are loved and appreciated so much!"
Why use the passive "are loved and appreciated"? Doesn't it make more sense and communicate more powerfully to say "I love you and appreciate you so much"?
I bought the card. But I intently crossed out and rewrote that last sentence before signing the card and sealing it in the envelope.
I have been wondering about why the greeting card writer would use the passive voice for that last sentence. And I now have the answer:
Passive verbs do not indicate who is performing the action of the verb. The passive "You are loved and appreciated so much" widens the choice of who might buy and give the card. It can be from the wife alone or from the wife and children. Using "I love you" would have limited the buying and giving audience to wives alone.
To Hallmark, the producer of the card, I say this: That was a very savvy verb choice, Hallmark. I appreciate your language tactics.
To all fathers and to those who have taken on a fatherly role, I say this: Happy Father's Day! You are loved and appreciated.