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The passive/active verb preference question has been discussed before ( Passive vs. active form of verb (past) What is the difference? ), but I had a specific question.

When a verb is used in the adjective location, is active form preferred always to passive form?

I would tend to write:

保存されたファイルを添付しました。

But I was told it would better to use the active voice:

保存したファイルを添付しました。

Is this always the better (clearer) form?

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In this specific case, at the phrase level, the difference between 保存したファイル and 保存されたファイル is usually subtle; both means "saved file".

However, this phrase is followed by 添付しました whose subject is you, so I feel it flows much better when you use the same subject.

Your first example perfectly makes sense, but may be unnecessarily complicated as compared to the second one.

Edit:

This may be too obvious, but if you say "保存されたファイル", there would be small ambiguity regarding who saved the file. I don't think that's a huge problem in this specific case, but when the creator of the file is important, you have no choice but to use the active voice.

  • I'm sorry I don't think it is subtle, but rather huge. Mr. Naruto, are you suggesting since the person "添付しました” ( the person who has attached the file ) is the person who is same with the Subject "You", you are suggesting you should use the same line? For example, how about "保存したファイルは添付されました”. It denotes the same meaning with 保存されたファイルを添付しました。Only the last verb has become passive. So the important point is, still, "by whom"? Who attached the file? Yes, the very questioner himself. – Kentaro Feb 13 '15 at 2:53
  • Example : "保存したファイルは添付されました's case, the questioner is looking at the screen and has confirmed "the file has been attached by the questioner" Oh, then, I here hit upon the idea of yours, you may be right, since this case "保存した” implies definitely the person who had saved the file ( in this case, questioner ). So your idea, "same line should come" theory may be right, because in the end, "particularly in this case", the implied Subject ( who ) should be same with the person who has done at the end of the speech. – Kentaro Feb 13 '15 at 3:08
  • So "in this case", we have to confirm "by whom" for each of the part of the speech. For 保存されたファイルを添付しました。's case, 保存された does not specify "by whom", however, the person who did 添付しました。meaning "has attached", is the questioner. Your concept ( I think in this case, particularly ) is correct, the first line and the end line should be same. Same with 保存したファイルは添付されました. Questioner did "保存した”, by whom is "添付されました" is the questioner too. – Kentaro Feb 13 '15 at 3:28
  • @KentaroTomono 特殊な状況でない限り「誰が保存したか」は文脈から明白なので、受動態だと大きく意味が変わってしまうとまでは言えないと思います。もちろん「保存されたファイルは添付されました」だと、かなり無責任に聞こえますが。 – naruto Feb 13 '15 at 7:53
  • う〜ん。「ファイルは保存しました」はOKですよね。保存されたファイルは…って個人的には「誰が保存したファイル?」とか聞きたくなりますが。このニュアンスは学習者には解りづらいんでしょうなあ。英語ではThe saved file is attached. は fine なんですが。 – Kentaro Feb 13 '15 at 8:02
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I would tend to write:

保存されたファイルを添付しました。

But I was told it would better to use the active voice:

保存したファイルを添付しました。

Is this always the better (clearer) form?

Most certainly, the active voice form is better. This is because of who saved the file.

保存したファイルを添付しました。

Since quite often the Japanese language omits the subject, this speech has an unspoken implication of:

(私が)保存したファイルを添付しました。

On the other hand, when I hear:

保存されたファイルを添付しました。

This passive-verb adjective ( taking 連体形 ) tempts me to ask "by whom the file was saved?", since in this case the unspoken implication of the Subject is (誰かが)保存したファイルを添付しました, meaning, having attached the file "someone (has) saved."

  • I often deal with sentences that are of the form: 「私は(誰かが保存したファイルを)添付した。」 But in most all cases, if the active voice is better, regardless of who did the saving, I can use the active. Of course previous context would make it clear who saved the files (if it is important). – Norbles Feb 13 '15 at 19:16
  • Hmmm...you are misunderstanding my advice I think it is better for you to do what your senpai says each time. >>But in most all cases, if the active voice is better, regardless of who did the saving, I can use the active. If you know clearly WHO SAVED the file, I think it is better of rather you even need to specify it unless I think you are going to end up in mess... – Kentaro Feb 14 '15 at 1:37
  • Yes, if it will end up a mess, I would definitely specify it. – Norbles Feb 14 '15 at 1:42

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