Introduction ACTIVE PASSIVE• They built the house in 1980. • The house was built in 1980.• When we say what people and • When we say what happens to things do, we use active verbs people and things – what is done forms. to them – we often use passive verb forms.
Active - Passive transformation1-Direct or Indirect object becomes the subject of the passive.2-The verb of the active is replaced by the appropriate form of the auxiliary “be” plus the past participle of the verb.3-The subject of the active becomes the agent in the passive.ACTIVE: The police caught the burglarPASSIVE: The burglar was caught by the police The passive of the active tenses is formed by putting “to be” into the same tense as the active verb and adding the past participle of the active verb.
Verb transformationsVerb tense in the active Example Passive transformationPresent Simple moves Am/is/are movedPast Simple moved Was/were movedPresent Continuous Am/is/are moving Am/is/are being movedPast Continuous Was/were moving Was/were being movedPresent Perfect Have/has moved Have/has been movedPast Perfect Had moved Had been movedPresent Perfect Cont. Have/has been moving Have/has been being movedPast Perfect Cont. Was/were been moving Was/were been being movedModal + base form Will move Will be movedModal + Cont./ Prog. Will be moving Will be being movedModal Perfect Will have moved Will have been movedModal Perfect Cont. Will have been moving Will have been being movedInfinitive I let somebody teach Ann I let Ann be taughtTo-infinitive We all like people to love us. We all like to be laughedGerund I saw somebody teaching Tom I saw Tom being taught.
Verb typologyThere are 3 types of verbs to take into account when talking about passives:1-intransitive: you cannot use them in passive voice because they don’t have an object: rise, sleep, appear, be. But, there are certain verbs of movement, which in Spanish are typically intransitive and in English they can admit a passive voice: like fly, walk, run, etc. They have never flown this plane. This plane has never been flown.2-transitive: you can use them in passive voice, they are verbs with objects. But there are a few transitive verbs that are rarely used in passives: get back, put out, get down (write), let, show off, take after, etc.-transitive and intransitive at the same time: follow, pass. -I passed that shop on my way home. (transitive) → (P): That shop was passed by… -The procession passes through those gates. (intransitive): no passive possible.
Verbs with 2 objects-When the active sentence has 2 objects: Tony has told Ann the news. -a direct object, usually denoting a thing (the news). -an indirect object usually denoting a person (Ann)there are two possible passives:1.Ann has been told the news by Tony. (which is more common, here we want to highlight the importance of the receiver of the action)2.The news have been told to Ann by Tony. (when the direct object is made the subject, the indirect is often preceded by a preposition)
Impersonal Passive Sentences (I) -They are passives in which we don’t know who the agent is. -Verbs employed: say, tell, report, know, think, consider, believe, imagine -There are 3 possibilities of formation: 1. (A) It is said that she is going to be married next week. (P) She is said to be married next week. (when there is a different subject) 2. (A) It was reported that a war has been declared in Iraq. (P) A war was reported to have been declared in Iraq. (same subject) 3.The verbs : believe, consider and imagine have 3 possible constructions: 1.It was considered that he has been shot. 2.He was considered to have been shot. 3.He was considered shot. (without auxiliaries) -Some sentences with infinitives or clauses as their objects which cannot become subject in the passive. However passive structures are often possible if it is used as a preparatory subject.
Impersonal Passive Sentences (II)-Translation of “Pasivas reflejas” used in Spanish when the mention of the subject of the action is not important or when the speaker does not want to make it clear who is it. The best way to translate them into English is using a passive.Se (le) ha roto el libro. → The book was / got broken. (the use of got gives the sentence a causative sense)-Translation of Spanish Reflexives: Se hirió con un cuchillo.-usual translation: done with a reflexive pronoun: He hurt himself with a knife.-the verb get can also be used: He got hurt with a knife.But there is a difference in meaning:He hurt himself with a knife. It implies he deliberately hurt himself.He got hurt with a knife. It implies unknown agent or an accident.
Prepositional verbs and phrasal verbs1-Prepositional verbs: transitive verbs followed by a preposition: ask for, believe in, care for, deal with, sit on, etc.(A) Somebody sat on my hat. (P) My hat was sat on.2-Ditransitive prepositional verbs: verbs whose direct object must be introduced by a preposition and that normally allow only one passive with the indirect object as subject:We reminded him of the agreement → He was reminded of the agreement. Ind. Direct Object Ind. DITRANSITIVE VERBS (examples): change with, compare to, congratulate on, convince of, deprive of, inform of, introduce to, punish for, remind of, refer to, rob of, sentence to, etc.3-Phrasal verbs:-Some can be separated: (A)He throw the book away. (P)The book was thrown away.-And some not: (A)They laughed at him. (P)He was laughed at.
To-Infinitive and that-clauses-Passive of the to-infinitive:We all like people to love us.We all like to be loved.-Passive of a that-clause:They thought that she was a spy.It was thought that she was a spy
Verbs with object + infinitive-Many verbs can be followed by object + infinitive. In most cases these structures can be made passive: He asked me to send a letter. I was asked to send a letter. They believe him to be dangerous. He was believed to be dangerous. We all like people to love us. We all like to be loved.-Infinitives without “to”: hear, see, make and help can be followed, in active structures, by object + inf. without to. In passive structures we must use “to- infinitives”: I saw him come out of the house. He was seen to come out of the house. (Use TO in the passive)-Preparatory “there”: with some verbs (say, think, report, understand), the passive structure is possible with there as a “preparatory subject”: There are thought to be more than 3,000 different languages in the world There was said to be disagreement between the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. (also “ It is said that there was…”)
Object complements After some verbs the direct object can be followed by a complement, a noun or adjective which describes or classifies the object. In the passive they come after the verb: They elected Bush president. Bush was elected president. Queen Victoria considered him a genius. He was considered a genius by Queen Victoria.
Verbs followed by a gerundThis type of sentences follows the generalrule. We have to distinguish betweendurative and instantaneous actions.We heard them singing.(durative)They were heard singing.We heard them sing.(instantaneous)They were heard to sing.
The passive with “get”-Get + past participle is also used to make passive structures, in the same way as be + past participle. My watch got broken. He got caught by the police.-Get + object + past participle: this structure can be used to mean:-“finish doing something”. The past participle has a passive meaning:It will take me another hour to get the washing done.-“arrange for something to be done by somebody else”: I must get my hair cut. You ought to get your car repaired.-“experience” to talk about things that happen to us: I got my car stolen.
“Become” When we want to imply that the result has been gradually obtained, we use to become instead of to be or to get:-The window was broken by my son-I know how the window got broken. (emphasis on result, causative)-With the passing of the time the window became covered in dust.
Idiomatic expressionsThey can have two passives because they have two noun phrases: They have made good use of the house (P1)Good use had been made of the house. -direct object (P2)The house had been made good use of.- direct object complementEXPRESSIONS: catch sight of, give place to, give way to, keep pace with, lose sight of, lose touch with, lose track to, make allowance for, make fun of, make a fuss over/about, make room for, make use of, pay attention to, put an end to, put a stop to, set fire to, take account of, take advantage of, take care of, take note of, take notice of.
BY and WITHWe have to distinguish between the:-agentive: is animate and initiates the cause. We have to use “BY”.The window was broken by a boy.-instrument: usually inanimate and does not initiate the cause. By or with are possible: The window was broken with a ball.
Uses of the passive voice-when we want to talk about an action, and we are not interested in who/what does/did it. Passives without agents are common in academic and scientific writing. That is, the action is more important than the agent, the doer).Those pyramids were built around 400 ADThe positive hydrogen atoms are attracted to the negative oxygen atoms.-when we want to begin a sentence with something that is already known, and then we put the “news” at the end, here we use an agent:Nice picture! Yes, it was painted by my grandmother, she was a great artist.-when the agent is people in general: Drugs were taken last night at the disco.-when we don’t know who the agent is: It is said that John has an affair with Ann.-when the agent is obvious from the context: 10 m. € were stolen from the bank-when writing notices: English spoken /Children not admitted/ Books sold.Active structures with passive meanings: meaning and grammar do not always got together. The gerund can have a passive meaning in some verbs: need, deserve, want, require. My watch needs cleaning. (also: needs to be cleaned) My car needs washing. Your house deserves taking care of. This proposal requires examining.
ConclusionThe passive voice is widely used in English. Itsmanagement implies idiomatic management of thelanguage. Many Spanish structures such as thereflexive “se dice, se cree, se piensa…” are expressedin English with the passive voice. It is also used innewspapers, and in formal and scientific writing.That’s why we should teach our students to use itcorrectly.