Pesky Trolls Return

Backseat Drivers are Powerless.

Vintage Baseball
Nate as the Kid

Words have power.

We need to ensure they have power.

Basic sentence structure places the subject first, in the driver’s seat.

As with every rule in English, exceptions exist where the subject leaves the driver’s seat.

FOUR exceptions immediately come to mind:

  • Modifiers
  • Questions
  • Expletives there and here
  • Passive voice


Adjectives.  Adverbs.  Don’t forget the prepositional phrases (Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house).

And also the verbal phrases, including the verbal participle (taking a backseat) . . . . Jogging slowly through the fog, Marianne saw looming ahead a lurid object.


In most questions the verb is in two parts, surrounding the subject . . . . Will Marianne turn back or continue her morning jog?

With these modifiers and questions, the subject remains in the driver’s seat.  They are all examples of what the Grammar World calls “ACTIVE VOICE”.  Yes, I intended to shout.

Those of us who desire interesting and tightened writing focus our sentences with the active voice.

But what if I want to take the power away from my subject?

Ah. . . .

You want to drive from the backseat?

Sometimes that’s helpful.

Sometimes it’s crucial.

Such as when the vial troll has seized your heroine Marianne from the jogging path, and you need to reassure the reader—in a sneaky manner—that she is still powerful.

Take power from the troll!

But you have to wait for next week to discover how.