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English passive voice

This article is about the passive voice in English. For the passive voice generally, including its use in other languages, see Passive voice.

The passive voice in English is a grammatical "voice". The noun or noun phrase that would be the object of a corresponding active sentence (such as "Our troops defeated the enemy") appears as the subject of a sentence or clause in the passive voice ("The enemy was defeated by our troops").

The subject of a sentence or clause featuring the passive voice typically denotes the recipient of the action (the patient) rather than the performer (the agent). Verbs in the passive voice in English are formed using several parts (periphrastically): the usual construction uses the auxiliary verbs to be or to get together with the past participle of the main verb.

For example, Caesar was stabbed by Brutus is in the passive voice. The subject, Caesar, indicates the person acted upon. The agent is expressed here with the phrase by Brutus, but this can be omitted. The equivalent sentence in the active voice is Brutus stabbed Caesar, in which the subject denotes the doer, or agent, Brutus. A sentence featuring the passive voice is sometimes called a passive sentence, and a verb phrase in passive voice is sometimes called a passive verb.

English allows a number of passive constructions which are not possible in many of the other languages with similar passive formation. These include promotion of an indirect object to subject (as in Tom was given a bag) and promotion of the complement of a preposition (as in Sue was operated on, leaving a stranded preposition).

Use of the passive in English varies with writing style and field. It is generally much less used than the active voice but is more prevalent in scientific writing than in other prose. Contemporary style guides discourage excessive use of the passive but appropriate use is generally accepted, for instance where the patient is the topic, the agent is unimportant (and therefore omitted), or the agent is to be highlighted (and therefore placed toward the end).

Contents

The passive voice is a specific grammatical construction. The essential components, in English, are a form of the auxiliary verb be (or sometimes get) and the past participle of the main verb denoting the action. The agent (the doer of the action) may be specified using a prepositional phrase with the preposition by, but this is optional. It can be used in a number of different grammatical contexts; for instance, in declarative, interrogative, and imperative clauses, and in gerundial constructions:

  • "Kennedy was assassinated in 1963."
  • "Mistakes were made."
  • "The window got broken."
  • "Have you ever been kicked by an elephant?"
  • "Don't get killed."
  • "Being attacked by Geoffrey Howe was like being savaged by a dead sheep."

Distinction between passive voice and participial adjective

A distinction is made between the above type of clause and a superficially similar construction where a word with the form of a past participle is used as a predicative adjective, and the verb be or similar is simply a copula linking the subject of the sentence to that adjective. For example:

I am excited (right now).

is not passive voice, because excited here is not a verb form (as it would be in the passive the electron was excited with a laser pulse), but an adjective denoting a state. See § Stative and adjectival uses below.

Misuse of the term

Though the passive can be used for the purpose of concealing the agent, this is not a valid way of identifying the passive, and many other grammatical constructions can be used to accomplish this. Not every expression that serves to take focus away from the performer of an action is an instance of passive voice. For instance, "There were mistakes" and "Mistakes occurred" are both in the active voice. Occasionally, authors express recommendations about use of the passive unclearly or misapply the term "passive voice" to include sentences of this type. An example of this incorrect usage can be found in the following extract from an article from The New Yorker about Bernard Madoff (bolding and italics added; bold text indicates the verbs misidentified as passive voice):

Two sentences later, Madoff said, "When I began the Ponzi scheme, I believed it would end shortly, and I would be able to extricate myself, and my clients, from the scheme." As he read this, he betrayed no sense of how absurd it was to use the passive voice in regard to his scheme, as if it were a spell of bad weather that had descended on him . . . In most of the rest of the statement, one not only heard the aggrieved passive voice, but felt the hand of a lawyer: "To the best of my recollection, my fraud began in the early nineteen-nineties."

The intransitive verbs would end and began are in fact ergative verbs in the active voice. Although the speaker may be using words in a manner that diverts responsibility from him, this is not being accomplished by use of passive voice.

The passive voice can be used without referring to the agent of an action; it may therefore be used when the agent is unknown or unimportant, or the speaker does not wish to mention the agent.

  • Three stores were robbed last night (the identity of the agent may be unknown).
  • A new cancer drug has been discovered (the identity of the agent may be unimportant in the context).
  • Mistakes have been made on this project (the speaker may not wish to identify the agent).

The last sentence illustrates a frequently criticized use of the passive, as the evasion of responsibility by failure to mention the agent (which may even be the speaker themselves).

However the passive voice can also be used together with a mention of the agent, usually using a by-phrase. In this case the reason for use of the passive is often connected with the positioning of this phrase at the end of the clause (unlike in the active voice, where the agent, as subject, normally precedes the verb). Here, in contrast to the examples above, passive constructions may in fact serve to place emphasis on the agent, since it is natural for information being emphasized to come at the end:

  • Don't you see? The patient was murdered by his own doctor!

In more technical terms, such uses can be expected in sentences where the agent is the focus (comment, rheme), while the patient (the undergoer of the action) is the topic or theme (see Topic–comment). There is a tendency for sentences to be formulated so as to place the focus at the end, which can motivate the choice of active or passive voice:

  • My taxi hit an old lady (the taxi is the topic, and the lady is the focus).
  • My mother was hit by a taxi (the mother is the topic, and the taxi is the focus).

Similarly, the passive may be used because the noun phrase denoting the agent is a long one (containing many modifiers) since it is convenient to place such phrases at the end of a clause:

  • The breakthrough was achieved by Burlingame and Evans, two researchers in the university's genetic engineering lab.

In some situations, the passive may be used so that the most dramatic word or the punchline appears at the end of the sentence.

Advice against the passive voice

Many language critics and language-usage manuals discourage use of the passive voice. This advice is not usually found in older guides, emerging only in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1916, the British writer Arthur Quiller-Couch criticized this grammatical voice:

Generally, use transitive verbs, that strike their object; and use them in the active voice, eschewing the stationary passive, with its little auxiliary its’s and was’s, and its participles getting into the light of your adjectives, which should be few. For, as a rough law, by his use of the straight verb and by his economy of adjectives you can tell a man’s style, if it be masculine or neuter, writing or 'composition'.

Two years later, in the original 1918 edition of The Elements of Style, Cornell University Professor of English William Strunk, Jr. warned against excessive use of the passive voice:

The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive . . . This rule does not, of course, mean that the writer should entirely discard the passive voice, which is frequently convenient and sometimes necessary . . . The need to make a particular word the subject of the sentence will often . . . determine which voice is to be used. The habitual use of the active voice, however, makes for forcible writing. This is true not only in narrative concerned principally with action, but in writing of any kind. Many a tame sentence of description or exposition can be made lively and emphatic by substituting a transitive in the active voice for some such perfunctory expression as there is or could be heard.

In 1926, in A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Henry Watson Fowler recommended against transforming active voice forms into passive voice forms, because doing so "...sometimes leads to bad grammar, false idiom, or clumsiness."

In 1946, in the essay Politics and the English Language, George Orwell recommended the active voice as an elementary principle of composition: "Never use the passive where you can use the active."

The Columbia Guide to Standard American English states that:

Active voice makes subjects do something (to something); passive voice permits subjects to have something done to them (by someone or something). Some argue that active voice is more muscular, direct, and succinct, passive voice flabbier, more indirect, and wordier. If you want your words to seem impersonal, indirect, and noncommittal, passive is the choice, but otherwise, active voice is almost invariably likely to prove more effective.

Use of the passive is more prevalent in scientific writing, but publishers of some scientific publications, such as Nature, Science and the IEEE, explicitly encourage their authors to use active voice.

The principal criticism against the passive voice is its potential for evasion of responsibility. This is because a passive clause may be used to omit the agent even where it is important:

  • We had hoped to report on this problem, but the data were inadvertently deleted from our files.

Krista Ratcliffe, a professor at Marquette University, notes the use of passives as an example of the role of grammar as "...a link between words and magical conjuring [...]: passive voice mystifies accountability by erasing who or what performs an action [...]."

Advice by style guides and grammarians on appropriate use of the passive voice

Jan Freeman, a columnist for The Boston Globe, said that the passive voice does have its uses, and that "all good writers use the passive voice."

Passive writing is not necessarily slack and indirect. Many famously vigorous passages use the passive voice, as in these examples with the passive verbs italicized:

  • Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. (King James Bible, Isaiah 40:4.)
  • Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York. (Shakespeare's Richard III, I.1, ll. 1–2.)
  • We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (United States Declaration of Independence.)
  • Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. (Winston Churchill addressing the House of Commons, 20 August 1940.)
  • Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. (Franklin D. Roosevelt's Infamy Speech following the Attack on Pearl Harbor.)
  • For of those to whom much is given, much is required. (John F. Kennedy's quotation of Luke 12:48 in his address to the Massachusetts legislature, 9 January 1961.)

While Strunk and White, in The Elements of Style, encourage use of the active voice, they also state that the passive is often useful and sometimes preferable, even necessary, the choice of active or passive depending, for instance, on the topic of the sentence.

Another advisor, Joseph M. Williams, who has written several books on style, states with greater clarity that the passive is often the better choice. According to Williams, the choice between active and passive depends on the answers to three questions:

  1. "Must the reader know who is responsible for the action?"
  2. "Would the active or passive verb help your readers move more smoothly from one sentence to the next?
  3. "Would the active or passive give readers a more consistent and appropriate point of view?"

Bryan A. Garner, in Garner's Modern English Usage, stresses the advantages of the active voice, but gives the following examples of where the passive is preferred:

  • "When the actor is unimportant."
  • "When the actor is unknown."
  • "When you want to hide the actor's identity."
  • "When you need to put the punch word at the end of the sentence."
  • "When the focus of the sentence is on the thing being acted on."
  • "When the passive simply sounds better."

Merriam–Webster's Dictionary of English Usage recommends the passive voice when identifying the object (receiver) of the action is more important than the subject (agent), and when the agent is unknown, unimportant, or not worth mentioning:

  • The child was struck by the car.
  • The store was robbed last night.
  • Plows should not be kept in the garage.
  • Kennedy was elected president.

The linguist Geoffrey Pullum writes that "The passive is not an undesirable feature limited to bad writing, it's a useful construction often needed for clear expression, and every good writer uses it."

Despite criticism that the passive can be used to hide responsibility by omitting the agent, the passive can also be used to emphasize the agent. Writers have preferred placing the agent at the end of a clause or sentence to give it greater emphasis, as in the examples given in the previous section:

  • Don't you see? The patient was murdered by his own doctor!
  • The breakthrough was achieved by Burlingame and Evans, two researchers in the university's genetic engineering lab.

Actual use of the passive voice

Agentless passives were once common in scientific writing, where the agent may be irrelevant, although at least one publisher considers this a "fading practice":

  • The mixture was heated to 300 °C.

The passive voice is used more frequently in scientific writing than in other prose, where it is relatively rare.

A statistical study of a variety of periodicals found a maximum incidence of 13 percent passive constructions. Despite Orwell's advice to avoid the passive, his Politics and the English Language employs passive voice for about 20 percent of its constructions.

Canonical passives

In the most commonly considered type of passive clause, a form of the verb be (or sometimes get) is used as an auxiliary together with the past participle of a transitive verb; that verb is missing its direct object, and the patient of the action (that which would be denoted by the direct object of the verb in an active clause) is denoted instead by the subject of the clause. For example, the active clause:

  • John threw the ball.

contains threw as a transitive verb with John as its subject and the ball as its direct object. If we recast the verb in the passive voice (was thrown), then the ball becomes the subject (it is "promoted" to the subject position) and John disappears:

  • The ball was thrown.

The original subject (the agent) can optionally be re-inserted using the preposition by.

  • The ball was thrown by John.

The above example uses the verb be (in the past tense form was) to make the passive. It is often possible to use the verb get as an alternative (possibly with slightly different meaning); for example, the active sentence "The ball hit Bob" may be recast in either of the following forms:

  • Bob was hit by the ball.
  • Bob got hit by the ball.

The auxiliary verb of the passive voice (be or get) may appear in any combination of tense, aspect and mood, and can also appear in non-finite form (infinitive, participle or gerund). See the article on English verb forms for more information. Notice that this includes use of the verb be in progressive aspect, which does not normally occur when be is used as a simple copula. Some examples:

  • The food is being served. (present progressive passive)
  • The stadium will have been built by next January. (future perfect passive)
  • I would have got/gotten injured if I had stayed in my place. (conditional perfect passive with get)
  • It isn't nice to be insulted. (passive infinitive)
  • Having been humiliated, he left the stage. (passive present participle, perfect aspect)

Promotion of indirect objects

Unlike some other languages, English also allows passive clauses in which an indirect object, rather than a direct object, is promoted to the subject. For example:

  • John gave Mary a book. → Mary was given a book (by John).

In the active form, gave is the verb; John is its subject, Mary its indirect object, and a book its direct object. In the passive forms, the indirect object has been promoted and the direct object has been left in place. (In this respect, English resembles secundative languages.)

It is normally only the first-appearing object that can be promoted; promotion of the indirect object takes place from a construction in which it precedes the direct object (i.e. where there is no to or for before the indirect object), whereas promotion of the direct object in such cases takes place from a construction in which the indirect object follows the direct object (this time being accompanied by to or for; see English grammar § Verb phrases). For example:

  • John gave Mary a book. → Mary was given a book. (and not normally: ??A book was given Mary.)
  • John gave a book to Mary. → A book was given to Mary. (and not: *Mary was given a book to.)

Similar restrictions apply to the prepositional passive, as noted in the following section.

Prepositional passive

It is also possible, in some cases, to promote the object of a preposition. This may be called the prepositional passive, or sometimes the pseudopassive (although the latter term can also have other meanings, such as being equivalent to the impersonal passive voice, particularly in descriptions of other languages).

  • They talked about the problem. → The problem was talked about.

In the passive form here, the preposition is "stranded"; that is, it is not followed by an object.

The prepositional passive is common, especially in informal English. However some potential uses are much less acceptable than others; compare the following examples:

  • Someone has slept in this bottom bunk. → This bottom bunk has been slept in. (fully acceptable)
  • Someone has slept above this bottom bunk. → ??This bottom bunk has been slept above. (much less acceptable)

The second sentence appears much less acceptable because sleeping above a bunk does not change its state; the verb phrase been slept above does not express a "relevantly important property" of the bunk.

It is not usually possible to promote a prepositional object if the verb also has a direct object; any passive rendering of the sentence must instead promote the direct object. For example:

  • Someone has put a child in this bunk. → *This bunk has been put a child in. (unacceptable)
  • Someone has put a child in this bunk. → A child has been put in this bunk. (acceptable)

Exceptions occur with certain idiomatic combinations of verb+object+preposition, such as take advantage of:

  • I feel people have taken advantage of me. → I feel I have been taken advantage of. (acceptable)

Stative and adjectival uses

A type of clause that is similar or identical in form to the passive clauses described above has the past participle used to denote not an action, but a state being the result of an action. For example, the sentence The window was broken may have two different meanings and might be ambiguous:

  • The window was broken, i.e. Someone or something broke the window. (action, event)
  • The window was broken, i.e. The window was not intact. (resultant state)

The first sentence is an example of the canonical English passive as described above. However the second case is distinct; such sentences are not passive voice, because the participle is being used adjectivally; Such constructs are sometimes called "false passives" or stative passives (rarely called statal, static, or resultative passives), since they represent a state or result. By contrast the canonical passives, representing an action or event, may then be called dynamic or eventive passives.

The ambiguity in such sentences arises because the verb be is used in English both as the passive auxiliary and as the ordinary copular verb for linking to predicate adjectives. When get is used to form the passive, there is no ambiguity: The window got broken cannot have a stative meaning. (For ways in which some other languages make this distinction, see Passive voice § Stative and dynamic passive.) If a distinct adjective exists for the purpose of expressing the state, then the past participle is less likely to be used for that purpose; this is the case with the verb open and the adjective open, so the sentence The door was opened (but not the package was unopened) more likely refers to the action than to the state since one can simply say The door was open in the stative case.

Past participles of transitive verbs can also be used as adjectives (as in a broken doll), and the participles used in the above-mentioned "stative" constructions are often considered to be adjectival (in predicative use). Such constructions may then also be called adjectival passives (although they are not normally considered true passives). For example:

  • She was relieved to find her car.

Here, relieved is an ordinary adjective, though it derives from the past participle of relieve. In other sentences that same participle may be used to form the true (dynamic) passive: He was relieved of duty.

When the verb being put into the passive voice is a stative verb anyway, the distinctions between uses of the past participle become less clear, since the canonical passive already has a stative meaning. (For example: People know his identityHis identity is known.) However it is sometimes possible to impart a dynamic meaning using get as the auxiliary, as in get known with the meaning "become known".

Passive constructions without an exactly corresponding active

Some passive constructions are not derived exactly from a corresponding active construction in the ways described above. This is particularly the case with sentences containing content clauses (usually that-clauses). Given a sentence in which the role of direct object is played by such a clause, for example

  • They say (that) he cheats.

It is possible to convert this to a passive by promoting the content clause to subject; in this case, however, the clause typically does not change its position in the sentence, and an expletive it takes the normal subject position:

  • It is said that he cheats.

Another way of forming passives in such cases involves promoting the subject of the content clause to the subject of the main clause, and converting the content clause into a non-finite clause with the to-infinitive. This infinitive is marked for grammatical aspect to correspond to the aspect (or past tense) expressed in the content clause. For example:

  • They say that he cheats. → He is said to cheat.
  • They think that I am dying. → I am thought to be dying.
  • They report that she came back / has come back. → She is reported to have come back.
  • They say that she will resign. → e.g. She is said to be going to resign.

Some verbs are used almost exclusively in the passive voice. This is the case with rumor, for example. The following passive sentences are possible:

  • He was rumored to be a war veteran. / It was rumored that he was a war veteran.

but it is not possible to use the active counterpart *They rumored that he was a war veteran. (This was once possible, but has fallen out of use.)

Another situation in which the passive uses a different construction than the active involves the verb make, meaning "compel". When this verb is used in the active voice it takes the bare infinitive (without the particle to), but in the passive voice it takes the to-infinitive. For example:

  • They made Jane attend classes.
  • Jane was made to attend classes.

Double passives

The construction called double passive can arise when one verb appears in the to-infinitive as the complement of another verb.

If the first verb takes a direct object ahead of the infinitive complement (this applies to raising-to-object verbs, where the expected subject of the second verb is raised to the position of object of the first verb), then the passive voice may be used independently for either or both of the verbs:

  • We expect you to complete the project. (you is raised from subject of complete to object of expect)
  • You are expected to complete the project. (passive voice used for expect)
  • We expect the project to be completed. (passive voice used for complete; now the project is raised to object)
  • The project is expected to be completed. (double passive)

Other verbs which can behave similarly to expect in such constructions include order, tell, persuade, etc., leading to such double passives as The man was ordered to be shot and I was persuaded to be ordained.

Similar constructions sometimes occur, however, when the first verb is raising-to-subject rather than raising-to-object – that is, when there is no object before the infinitive complement. For example, with attempt, the active voice construction is simply We attempted to complete the project. A double passive formed from that sentence would be:

  • The project was attempted to be completed.

with both verbs changed simultaneously to the passive voice, even though the first verb takes no object – it is not possible to say *We attempted the project to be completed, which is the sentence from which the double passive would appear to derive.

This latter double passive construction is criticized as questionable both grammatically and stylistically. Fowler calls it "clumsy and incorrect", suggesting that it springs from false analogy with the former (acceptable) type of double passive, though conceding its usefulness in some legal and quasi-legal language. Other verbs mentioned (besides attempt) with which the construction is found include begin, desire, hope, propose, seek and threaten. Similarly, The American Heritage Book of English Usage declares this construction unacceptable. It nonetheless occurs in practice in a variety of contexts.

Additional passive constructions

Certain other constructions are sometimes classed as passives. The following types are mentioned by Pullum.

A bare passive clause is similar to a typical passive clause, but without the passive auxiliary verb (so it is a non-finite clause consisting of a subject together with a verb phrase based on a past participle with the passive construction). These can be used in such contexts as newspaper headlines:

  • City hall damaged by hail

and as modifiers (adverbial phrases), i.e. nominative absolutes:

  • Our work done, we made our way back home.
  • That said, there are also other considerations.

Other constructions are mentioned in which a passive past participle clause is used, even though it is not introduced by the auxiliary be or get (or is introduced by get with a direct object):

  • I had my car cleaned by a professional.
  • Jane had her car stolen last week.
  • You ought to get that lump looked at.
  • This software comes pre-installed by the manufacturer.

In the concealed passive, the present participle or gerund form (-ing form) appears rather than the past participle. This can appear after need, and for some speakers after want (with similar meaning). For example:

  • Your car needs washing. (meaning "needs to be washed")
  • That rash needs looking at by a specialist.

(An idiomatic expression with the same construction is ... doesn't bear thinking about.)

The concealed passive (with an -ing form) can also be used in a complex construction; Huddleston gives the following example:

  • Your hair needs cutting by a professional. [simple construction]
  • You need your hair cutting by a professional. [complex construction]

See also English clause syntax § Non-finite clauses.

The term middle voice is sometimes used to refer to verbs used without a passive construction, but in a meaning where the grammatical subject is understood as undergoing the action. The meaning may be reflexive:

  • Fred shaved, i.e. Fred shaved himself

but is not always:

  • These cakes sell well, i.e. [we] sell these cakes [successfully]
  • The clothes are soaking, i.e. [the water] is soaking the clothes

Such verbs may also be called passival.

Another construction sometimes referred to as passival involves a wider class of verbs, and was used in English until the nineteenth century. Sentences having this construction feature progressive aspect and resemble the active voice, but with meaning like the passive. Examples of this would be:

  • The house is building. (modern English: The house is being built)
  • The meal is eating. (modern English: The meal is being eaten)

A rare example of the passival form being used in modern English is with the following phrase:

  • The drums are beating, i.e. the drums are being beaten

This passival construction was displaced during the late 18th and early 19th century by the progressive passive (the form is being built as given above). The grammaticality of the progressive passive, called by some the "imperfect passive," was controversial among grammarians in the 19th century, but is accepted without question today. It has been suggested that the passive progressive appeared just to the east of Bristol and was popularized by the Romantic poets.

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  29. International Studies Review (10 March 2010). "Journal house style points"(PDF). Archived from the original(PDF) on 2011-06-08. Retrieved2010-08-05.
  30. In US English, the general past participle of get is gotten. In British English it is got.
  31. Truswell, Robert (2008). "Preposition stranding, passivisation, and extraction from adjuncts in Germanic". Linguistic Variation Yearbook. 8: 131–178. doi:10.1075/livy.8.05tru.
  32. Dixon, R. M. W. & Alexandra Aikhenvald (1997). "A Typology of Argument-Determined Constructions. pp 72 of Bybee, Joan, John Haiman, & Sandra A. Thompson (eds.)(1997). Essays on Language Function and Language Type: Dedicated to T. Givón. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  33. Language Log: How to defend yourself from bad advice about writing
  34. Knabe, Norman (January 2009). The Get-Passives as an Emotive Language Device. GRIN Verlag. ISBN 978-3-640-25174-2. Retrieved13 November 2012.
  35. H.W. Fowler, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Second Revised Edition, 1965. Entry for double passives.
  36. The American Heritage Book of English Usage, ch. 1, sect. 24 "double passive." Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996. https://www.webcitation.org/5QdHYrkv6?url=http://www.bartleby.com/64/C001/024.html Accessed 13 November 2006.
  37. Neal Whitman, Double Your Passive, Double Your Fun, in Literal Minded. http://literalminded.wordpress.com/2005/05/16/double-your-passive-double-your-fun/. Accessed 13 November 2006.
  38. Huddleston, Rodney; Pullum, Geoffrey (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 1206, 1200. ISBN 978-0-521-43146-0.
  39. Oxford English Dictionary, entry for passival.
  40. Liberman, Mark (January 13, 2011). "A peeve for the ages". Language Log.
  41. Vuolo, Mike (May 29, 2012). "The House is Building"? Why you never learned the passival tense, even though it used to be proper English grammar". Slate.
  42. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Merriam-Webster. 1994. p. 775. ISBN 978-0-87779-132-4. Retrieved27 January 2013.

English passive voice
English passive voice Language Watch Edit 160 160 Redirected from Said to This article is about the passive voice in English For the passive voice generally including its use in other languages see Passive voice The passive voice in English is a grammatical voice The noun or noun phrase that would be the object of a corresponding active sentence such as Our troops defeated the enemy appears as the subject of a sentence or clause in the passive voice The enemy was defeated by our troops The subject of a sentence or clause featuring the passive voice typically denotes the recipient of the action the patient rather than the performer the agent Verbs in the passive voice in English are formed using several parts periphrastically the usual construction uses the auxiliary verbs to be or to get together with the past participle of the main verb For example Caesar was stabbed by Brutus is in the passive voice The subject Caesar indicates the person acted upon The agent is expressed here with the phrase by Brutus but this can be omitted The equivalent sentence in the active voice is Brutus stabbed Caesar in which the subject denotes the doer or agent Brutus A sentence featuring the passive voice is sometimes called a passive sentence and a verb phrase in passive voice is sometimes called a passive verb 1 English allows a number of passive constructions which are not possible in many of the other languages with similar passive formation These include promotion of an indirect object to subject as in Tom was given a bag and promotion of the complement of a preposition as in Sue was operated on leaving a stranded preposition 2 Use of the passive in English varies with writing style and field It is generally much less used than the active voice but is more prevalent in scientific writing than in other prose Contemporary style guides discourage excessive use of the passive but appropriate use is generally accepted for instance where the patient is the topic the agent is unimportant and therefore omitted or the agent is to be highlighted and therefore placed toward the end Contents 1 Identifying the English passive 1 1 Distinction between passive voice and participial adjective 1 2 Misuse of the term 2 Reasons for using the passive voice 3 Style advice 3 1 Advice against the passive voice 3 2 Advice by style guides and grammarians on appropriate use of the passive voice 3 3 Actual use of the passive voice 4 Passive constructions 4 1 Canonical passives 4 2 Promotion of indirect objects 4 3 Prepositional passive 4 4 Stative and adjectival uses 4 5 Passive constructions without an exactly corresponding active 4 6 Double passives 4 7 Additional passive constructions 5 Middle voice and passival 6 See also 7 References 8 External linksIdentifying the English passive EditThe passive voice is a specific grammatical construction The essential components in English are a form of the auxiliary verb be or sometimes get 3 and the past participle of the main verb denoting the action The agent the doer of the action may be specified using a prepositional phrase with the preposition by but this is optional 4 It can be used in a number of different grammatical contexts for instance in declarative interrogative and imperative clauses and in gerundial constructions Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 Mistakes were made The window got broken Have you ever been kicked by an elephant Don t get killed Being attacked by Geoffrey Howe was like being savaged by a dead sheep Distinction between passive voice and participial adjective Edit A distinction is made between the above type of clause and a superficially similar construction where a word with the form of a past participle is used as a predicative adjective and the verb be or similar is simply a copula linking the subject of the sentence to that adjective For example I am excited right now dd is not passive voice because excited here is not a verb form as it would be in the passive the electron was excited with a laser pulse but an adjective denoting a state See Stative and adjectival uses below Misuse of the term Edit Though the passive can be used for the purpose of concealing the agent this is not a valid way of identifying the passive and many other grammatical constructions can be used to accomplish this Not every expression that serves to take focus away from the performer of an action is an instance of passive voice For instance There were mistakes and Mistakes occurred are both in the active voice Occasionally authors express recommendations about use of the passive unclearly or misapply the term passive voice to include sentences of this type 5 An example of this incorrect usage can be found in the following extract from an article from The New Yorker about Bernard Madoff bolding and italics added bold text indicates the verbs misidentified as passive voice Two sentences later Madoff said When I began the Ponzi scheme I believed it would end shortly and I would be able to extricate myself and my clients from the scheme As he read this he betrayed no sense of how absurd it was to use the passive voice in regard to his scheme as if it were a spell of bad weather that had descended on him In most of the rest of the statement one not only heard the aggrieved passive voice but felt the hand of a lawyer To the best of my recollection my fraud began in the early nineteen nineties 6 The intransitive verbs would end and began are in fact ergative verbs in the active voice Although the speaker may be using words in a manner that diverts responsibility from him this is not being accomplished by use of passive voice 7 Reasons for using the passive voice EditThe passive voice can be used without referring to the agent of an action it may therefore be used when the agent is unknown or unimportant or the speaker does not wish to mention the agent 8 Three stores were robbed last night the identity of the agent may be unknown A new cancer drug has been discovered the identity of the agent may be unimportant in the context Mistakes have been made on this project the speaker may not wish to identify the agent The last sentence illustrates a frequently criticized use of the passive as the evasion of responsibility by failure to mention the agent which may even be the speaker themselves 9 However the passive voice can also be used together with a mention of the agent usually using a by phrase 10 In this case the reason for use of the passive is often connected with the positioning of this phrase at the end of the clause unlike in the active voice where the agent as subject normally precedes the verb Here in contrast to the examples above passive constructions may in fact serve to place emphasis on the agent since it is natural for information being emphasized to come at the end Don t you see The patient was murdered by his own doctor 11 In more technical terms such uses can be expected in sentences where the agent is the focus comment rheme while the patient the undergoer of the action is the topic or theme 8 see Topic comment There is a tendency for sentences to be formulated so as to place the focus at the end which can motivate the choice of active or passive voice My taxi hit an old lady the taxi is the topic and the lady is the focus My mother was hit by a taxi the mother is the topic and the taxi is the focus Similarly the passive may be used because the noun phrase denoting the agent is a long one containing many modifiers since it is convenient to place such phrases at the end of a clause The breakthrough was achieved by Burlingame and Evans two researchers in the university s genetic engineering lab 9 In some situations the passive may be used so that the most dramatic word or the punchline appears at the end of the sentence Style advice EditAdvice against the passive voice Edit Many language critics and language usage manuals discourage use of the passive voice 8 This advice is not usually found in older guides emerging only in the first half of the twentieth century 12 In 1916 the British writer Arthur Quiller Couch criticized this grammatical voice Generally use transitive verbs that strike their object and use them in the active voice eschewing the stationary passive with its little auxiliary its s and was s and its participles getting into the light of your adjectives which should be few For as a rough law by his use of the straight verb and by his economy of adjectives you can tell a man s style if it be masculine or neuter writing or composition 13 Two years later in the original 1918 edition of The Elements of Style Cornell University Professor of English William Strunk Jr warned against excessive use of the passive voice The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive This rule does not of course mean that the writer should entirely discard the passive voice which is frequently convenient and sometimes necessary The need to make a particular word the subject of the sentence will often determine which voice is to be used The habitual use of the active voice however makes for forcible writing This is true not only in narrative concerned principally with action but in writing of any kind Many a tame sentence of description or exposition can be made lively and emphatic by substituting a transitive in the active voice for some such perfunctory expression as there is or could be heard 14 In 1926 in A Dictionary of Modern English Usage Henry Watson Fowler recommended against transforming active voice forms into passive voice forms because doing so sometimes leads to bad grammar false idiom or clumsiness 15 16 In 1946 in the essay Politics and the English Language George Orwell recommended the active voice as an elementary principle of composition Never use the passive where you can use the active 17 The Columbia Guide to Standard American English states that Active voice makes subjects do something to something passive voice permits subjects to have something done to them by someone or something Some argue that active voice is more muscular direct and succinct passive voice flabbier more indirect and wordier If you want your words to seem impersonal indirect and noncommittal passive is the choice but otherwise active voice is almost invariably likely to prove more effective 18 Use of the passive is more prevalent in scientific writing 19 but publishers of some scientific publications such as Nature 20 Science 21 and the IEEE 22 explicitly encourage their authors to use active voice The principal criticism against the passive voice is its potential for evasion of responsibility This is because a passive clause may be used to omit the agent even where it is important We had hoped to report on this problem but the data were inadvertently deleted from our files 8 9 Krista Ratcliffe a professor at Marquette University notes the use of passives as an example of the role of grammar as a link between words and magical conjuring passive voice mystifies accountability by erasing who or what performs an action 23 Advice by style guides and grammarians on appropriate use of the passive voice Edit Jan Freeman a columnist for The Boston Globe said that the passive voice does have its uses and that all good writers use the passive voice 24 Passive writing is not necessarily slack and indirect Many famously vigorous passages use the passive voice as in these examples with the passive verbs italicized Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain King James Bible Isaiah 40 4 Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York Shakespeare s Richard III I 1 ll 1 2 We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness United States Declaration of Independence Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few Winston Churchill addressing the House of Commons 20 August 1940 Yesterday December 7 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan Franklin D Roosevelt s Infamy Speech following the Attack on Pearl Harbor For of those to whom much is given muchis required John F Kennedy s quotation of Luke 12 48 in his address to the Massachusetts legislature 9 January 1961 25 While Strunk and White in The Elements of Style encourage use of the active voice they also state that the passive is often useful and sometimes preferable even necessary the choice of active or passive depending for instance on the topic of the sentence 26 Another advisor Joseph M Williams who has written several books on style states with greater clarity that the passive is often the better choice 27 According to Williams the choice between active and passive depends on the answers to three questions 27 Must the reader know who is responsible for the action Would the active or passive verb help your readers move more smoothly from one sentence to the next Would the active or passive give readers a more consistent and appropriate point of view Bryan A Garner in Garner s Modern English Usage stresses the advantages of the active voice but gives the following examples of where the passive is preferred 28 When the actor is unimportant When the actor is unknown When you want to hide the actor s identity When you need to put the punch word at the end of the sentence When the focus of the sentence is on the thing being acted on When the passive simply sounds better Merriam Webster s Dictionary of English Usage recommends the passive voice when identifying the object receiver of the action is more important than the subject agent and when the agent is unknown unimportant or not worth mentioning The child was struck by the car The store was robbed last night Plows should not be kept in the garage Kennedy was elected president 8 The linguist Geoffrey Pullum writes that The passive is not an undesirable feature limited to bad writing it s a useful construction often needed for clear expression and every good writer uses it 11 Despite criticism that the passive can be used to hide responsibility by omitting the agent the passive can also be used to emphasize the agent Writers have preferred placing the agent at the end of a clause or sentence to give it greater emphasis as in the examples given in the previous section Don t you see The patient was murdered by his own doctor The breakthrough was achieved by Burlingame and Evans two researchers in the university s genetic engineering lab Actual use of the passive voice Edit Agentless passives were once common in scientific writing where the agent may be irrelevant although at least one publisher considers this a fading practice 29 The mixture was heated to 300 C The passive voice is used more frequently in scientific writing than in other prose where it is relatively rare 19 A statistical study of a variety of periodicals found a maximum incidence of 13 percent passive constructions Despite Orwell s advice to avoid the passive his Politics and the English Language employs passive voice for about 20 percent of its constructions 8 Passive constructions EditCanonical passives Edit In the most commonly considered type of passive clause a form of the verb be or sometimes get is used as an auxiliary together with the past participle of a transitive verb that verb is missing its direct object and the patient of the action that which would be denoted by the direct object of the verb in an active clause is denoted instead by the subject of the clause For example the active clause John threw the ball contains threw as a transitive verb with John as its subject and the ball as its direct object If we recast the verb in the passive voice was thrown then the ball becomes the subject it is promoted to the subject position and John disappears The ball was thrown The original subject the agent can optionally be re inserted using the preposition by The ball was thrown by John The above example uses the verb be in the past tense form was to make the passive It is often possible to use the verb get as an alternative possibly with slightly different meaning for example the active sentence The ball hit Bob may be recast in either of the following forms Bob was hit by the ball Bob got hit by the ball The auxiliary verb of the passive voice be or get may appear in any combination of tense aspect and mood and can also appear in non finite form infinitive participle or gerund See the article on English verb forms for more information Notice that this includes use of the verb be in progressive aspect which does not normally occur when be is used as a simple copula Some examples The food is being served present progressive passive The stadium will have been built by next January future perfect passive I would have got gotten 30 injured if I had stayed in my place conditional perfect passive with get It isn t nice to be insulted passive infinitive Having been humiliated he left the stage passive present participle perfect aspect Promotion of indirect objects Edit Unlike some other languages English also allows passive clauses in which an indirect object rather than a direct object is promoted to the subject For example John gave Mary a book Mary was given a book by John In the active form gave is the verb John is its subject Mary its indirect object and a book its direct object In the passive forms the indirect object has been promoted and the direct object has been left in place In this respect English resembles secundative languages It is normally only the first appearing object that can be promoted promotion of the indirect object takes place from a construction in which it precedes the direct object i e where there is no to or for before the indirect object whereas promotion of the direct object in such cases takes place from a construction in which the indirect object follows the direct object this time being accompanied by to or for see English grammar Verb phrases For example John gave Mary a book Mary was given a book and not normally A book was given Mary John gave a book to Mary A book was given to Mary and not Mary was given a book to Similar restrictions apply to the prepositional passive as noted in the following section Prepositional passive Edit It is also possible in some cases to promote the object of a preposition This may be called the prepositional passive or sometimes the pseudopassive 31 although the latter term can also have other meanings such as being equivalent to the impersonal passive voice 32 particularly in descriptions of other languages They talked about the problem The problem was talked about In the passive form here the preposition is stranded that is it is not followed by an object The prepositional passive is common especially in informal English However some potential uses are much less acceptable than others compare the following examples 11 Someone has slept in this bottom bunk This bottom bunk has been slept in fully acceptable Someone has slept above this bottom bunk This bottom bunk has been slept above much less acceptable The second sentence appears much less acceptable because sleeping above a bunk does not change its state the verb phrase been slept above does not express a relevantly important property of the bunk 11 It is not usually possible to promote a prepositional object if the verb also has a direct object any passive rendering of the sentence must instead promote the direct object For example Someone has put a child in this bunk This bunk has been put a child in unacceptable Someone has put a child in this bunk A child has been put in this bunk acceptable Exceptions occur with certain idiomatic combinations of verb object preposition such as take advantage of I feel people have taken advantage of me I feel I have been taken advantage of acceptable Stative and adjectival uses Edit See also Passive voice Stative and dynamic passive A type of clause that is similar or identical in form to the passive clauses described above has the past participle used to denote not an action but a state being the result of an action For example the sentence The window was broken may have two different meanings and might be ambiguous The window was broken i e Someone or something broke the window action event The window was broken i e The window was not intact resultant state The first sentence is an example of the canonical English passive as described above However the second case is distinct such sentences are not passive voice because the participle is being used adjectivally 11 Such constructs are sometimes called false passives or stative passives rarely called statal static or resultative passives since they represent a state or result By contrast the canonical passives representing an action or event may then be called dynamic or eventive passives The ambiguity in such sentences arises because the verb be is used in English both as the passive auxiliary and as the ordinary copular verb for linking to predicate adjectives When get is used to form the passive there is no ambiguity The window got broken cannot have a stative meaning For ways in which some other languages make this distinction see Passive voice Stative and dynamic passive If a distinct adjective exists for the purpose of expressing the state then the past participle is less likely to be used for that purpose this is the case with the verb open and the adjective open so the sentence The door was opened but not the package was unopened more likely refers to the action than to the state since one can simply say The door was open in the stative case Past participles of transitive verbs can also be used as adjectives as in a broken doll and the participles used in the above mentioned stative constructions are often considered to be adjectival in predicative use Such constructions may then also be called adjectival passives although they are not normally considered true passives For example She was relieved to find her car Here relieved is an ordinary adjective though it derives from the past participle of relieve 33 In other sentences that same participle may be used to form the true dynamic passive He was relieved of duty When the verb being put into the passive voice is a stative verb anyway the distinctions between uses of the past participle become less clear since the canonical passive already has a stative meaning For example People know his identity His identity is known However it is sometimes possible to impart a dynamic meaning using get as the auxiliary as in get known with the meaning become known 34 Passive constructions without an exactly corresponding active Edit Some passive constructions are not derived exactly from a corresponding active construction in the ways described above This is particularly the case with sentences containing content clauses usually that clauses Given a sentence in which the role of direct object is played by such a clause for example They say that he cheats It is possible to convert this to a passive by promoting the content clause to subject in this case however the clause typically does not change its position in the sentence and an expletive it takes the normal subject position It is said that he cheats Another way of forming passives in such cases involves promoting the subject of the content clause to the subject of the main clause and converting the content clause into a non finite clause with the to infinitive This infinitive is marked for grammatical aspect to correspond to the aspect or past tense expressed in the content clause For example They say that he cheats He is said to cheat They think that I am dying I am thought to be dying They report that she came back has come back She is reported to have come back They say that she will resign e g She is said to be going to resign Some verbs are used almost exclusively in the passive voice This is the case with rumor for example The following passive sentences are possible He was rumored to be a war veteran It was rumored that he was a war veteran but it is not possible to use the active counterpart They rumored that he was a war veteran This was once possible but has fallen out of use Another situation in which the passive uses a different construction than the active involves the verb make meaning compel When this verb is used in the active voice it takes the bare infinitive without the particle to but in the passive voice it takes the to infinitive For example They made Jane attend classes Jane was made to attend classes Double passives Edit The construction called double passive can arise when one verb appears in the to infinitive as the complement of another verb If the first verb takes a direct object ahead of the infinitive complement this applies to raising to object verbs where the expected subject of the second verb is raised to the position of object of the first verb then the passive voice may be used independently for either or both of the verbs We expect you to complete the project you is raised from subject of complete to object of expect You are expected to complete the project passive voice used for expect We expect the project to be completed passive voice used for complete now the project is raised to object The project is expected to be completed double passive Other verbs which can behave similarly to expect in such constructions include order tell persuade etc leading to such double passives as The man was ordered to be shot and I was persuaded to be ordained Similar constructions sometimes occur however when the first verb is raising to subject rather than raising to object that is when there is no object before the infinitive complement For example with attempt the active voice construction is simply We attempted to complete the project A double passive formed from that sentence would be The project was attempted to be completed with both verbs changed simultaneously to the passive voice even though the first verb takes no object it is not possible to say We attempted the project to be completed which is the sentence from which the double passive would appear to derive This latter double passive construction is criticized as questionable both grammatically and stylistically Fowler 35 calls it clumsy and incorrect suggesting that it springs from false analogy with the former acceptable type of double passive though conceding its usefulness in some legal and quasi legal language Other verbs mentioned besides attempt with which the construction is found include begin desire hope propose seek and threaten Similarly The American Heritage Book of English Usage declares this construction unacceptable 36 It nonetheless occurs in practice in a variety of contexts 37 Additional passive constructions Edit Certain other constructions are sometimes classed as passives The following types are mentioned by Pullum 11 A bare passive clause is similar to a typical passive clause but without the passive auxiliary verb so it is a non finite clause consisting of a subject together with a verb phrase based on a past participle with the passive construction These can be used in such contexts as newspaper headlines City hall damaged by hail and as modifiers adverbial phrases i e nominative absolutes Our work done we made our way back home That said there are also other considerations Other constructions are mentioned in which a passive past participle clause is used even though it is not introduced by the auxiliary be or get or is introduced by get with a direct object I had my car cleaned by a professional Jane had her car stolen last week You ought to get that lump looked at This software comes pre installed by the manufacturer In the concealed passive the present participle or gerund form ing form appears rather than the past participle This can appear after need and for some speakers after want with similar meaning For example Your car needs washing meaning needs to be washed That rash needs looking at by a specialist An idiomatic expression with the same construction is doesn t bear thinking about The concealed passive with an ing form can also be used in a complex construction Huddleston gives the following example 38 Your hair needs cutting by a professional simple construction You need your hair cutting by a professional complex construction See also English clause syntax Non finite clauses Middle voice and passival EditThe term middle voice is sometimes used to refer to verbs used without a passive construction but in a meaning where the grammatical subject is understood as undergoing the action The meaning may be reflexive Fred shaved i e Fred shaved himself but is not always These cakes sell well i e we sell these cakes successfully The clothes are soaking i e the water is soaking the clothes Such verbs may also be called passival 39 Another construction sometimes referred to as passival involves a wider class of verbs and was used in English until the nineteenth century Sentences having this construction feature progressive aspect and resemble the active voice but with meaning like the passive 40 Examples of this would be The house is building modern English The house is being built The meal is eating modern English The meal is being eaten A rare example of the passival form being used in modern English is with the following phrase The drums are beating i e the drums are being beaten This passival construction was displaced during the late 18th and early 19th century by the progressive passive the form is being built as given above 40 41 The grammaticality of the progressive passive called by some the imperfect passive was controversial among grammarians in the 19th century but is accepted without question today 42 It has been suggested that the passive progressive appeared just to the east of Bristol and was popularized by the Romantic poets 41 See also EditErgative verb Existential clause List of common English usage misconceptions Mediopassive voice Reflexive verbReferences Edit Peters Pam 2004 The Cambridge Guide to English Usage Cambridge University Press p 411 ISBN 978 0 521 62181 6 Wanner Anja 31 July 2009 Deconstructing the English Passive Walter de Gruyter p 66 ISBN 978 3 11 019632 0 Retrieved 11 November 2012 Gee James Paul 1974 Get Passive On Some Constructions with get Indiana University Linguistics Club Huddleston Rodney Pullum Geoffrey 2002 The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language Cambridge New York Cambridge University Press pp 1427 1447 ISBN 978 0 521 43146 0 Mark Liberman Passive Voice 1397 2009 R I P in Language Log 2009 March 12 Nancy Franklin The Dolor of Money The New Yorker 2009 March 23 at 24 25 Mark Liberman The aggrieved passive voice in Language Log 2009 March 16 a b c d e f Merriam Webster s Dictionary of English Usage Merriam Webster 1994 pp 720 721 ISBN 978 0 87779 132 4 Retrieved 27 January 2013 a b c The American Heritage Book of English Usage 1996 Grammar Lesson Passive Voice ELC ELC English Language Center 2014 01 19 Retrieved 2017 11 21 a b c d e f Geoffrey K Pullum The passive in English Language Log Zwicky Arnold 2006 07 22 How long have we been avoiding the passive and why Language Log Archived from the original on 2009 04 16 Arthur Quiller Couch On the Art of Writing ch 7 1916 William Strunk Jr The Elements of Style ch 3 sec 11 1918 Bell Griffin B 1966 Style in judicial writing 15 J Pub L 214 Retrieved 2010 03 02 Fowler the recognized modern authority on the use of the English language Fowler W W Crystal David 2009 1926 A Dictionary of Modern English Usage The Classic First Edition Oxford World s Classics Hardbacks Series reissue ed Oxford Oxford University Press p 425 ISBN 978 0 19 953534 7 Retrieved 2010 03 02 PASSIVE DISTURBANCES The conversion of an active verb sentence into a passive verb one of the same meaning e g of You killed him into He was killed by you is a familiar process But it sometimes leads to bad grammar false idiom or clumsiness Orwell George 2000 Politics and the English Language Essays Introduction by Bernard Crick Penguin Books Limited ISBN 9780141919935 Wilson Kenneth G 1992 The Columbia Guide to Standard American English Archived from the original on November 19 2008 a b Fowler H W 2015 Butterfield Jeremy ed Fowler s Dictionary of Modern English Usage Oxford University Press p 606 ISBN 978 0 19 966135 0 Nature Publishing Group 2010 How to write a paper Authors amp referees Writing for a Nature Retrieved 5 September 2017 The Editors of Science 1970 03 27 Instructions for Contributors Science 167 3926 xviA xviB doi 10 1126 science 167 3926 xviA ISSN 0036 8075 S2CID 220088428 Write Clearly and Concisely IEEE Retrieved 2019 11 12 Ratcliffe Krista 1996 Anglo American feminist challenges to the rhetorical traditions Virginia Woolf Mary Daly Adrienne Rich SIU Press p 94 ISBN 978 0 8093 1934 3 Retrieved 2010 10 14 Freeman Jan 2009 03 22 Active resistance What we get wrong about the passive voice The Boston Globe Boston ISSN 0743 1791 Retrieved 2010 03 01 All good writers use the passive voice Address to Massachusetts legislature Jan 9 1961 Strunk Jr William White E B 1979 The Elements of Style 3rd ed Allyn and Bacon p 18 ISBN 978 0 205 19158 1 This rule does not of course mean that the writer should entirely discard the passive voice which is frequently convenient and sometimes necessary The need of making a particular word the subject of the sentence will often determine which voice is to be used a b For instance Williams Joseph M 2015 Bizup Joseph ed Style The Basics of Clarity and Grace 5th ed Pearson p 26 ISBN 978 0 321 95330 8 But the passive is often the better choice Garner Bryan A 2016 Garner s Modern English Usage Oxford University Press pp 676 677 ISBN 978 0 19 049148 2 International Studies Review 10 March 2010 Journal house style points PDF Archived from the original PDF on 2011 06 08 Retrieved 2010 08 05 In US English the general past participle of get is gotten In British English it is got Truswell Robert 2008 Preposition stranding passivisation and extraction from adjuncts in Germanic Linguistic Variation Yearbook 8 131 178 doi 10 1075 livy 8 05tru Dixon R M W amp Alexandra Aikhenvald 1997 A Typology of Argument Determined Constructions pp 72 of Bybee Joan John Haiman amp Sandra A Thompson eds 1997 Essays on Language Function and Language Type Dedicated to T Givon Amsterdam John Benjamins Language Log How to defend yourself from bad advice about writing Knabe Norman January 2009 The Get Passives as an Emotive Language Device GRIN Verlag ISBN 978 3 640 25174 2 Retrieved 13 November 2012 H W Fowler A Dictionary of Modern English Usage Second Revised Edition 1965 Entry for double passives The American Heritage Book of English Usage ch 1 sect 24 double passive Boston Houghton Mifflin 1996 https www webcitation org 5QdHYrkv6 url http www bartleby com 64 C001 024 html Accessed 13 November 2006 Neal Whitman Double Your Passive Double Your Fun in Literal Minded http literalminded wordpress com 2005 05 16 double your passive double your fun Accessed 13 November 2006 Huddleston Rodney Pullum Geoffrey 2002 The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language Cambridge New York Cambridge University Press pp 1206 1200 ISBN 978 0 521 43146 0 Oxford English Dictionary entry for passival a b Liberman Mark January 13 2011 A peeve for the ages Language Log a b Vuolo Mike May 29 2012 The House is Building Why you never learned the passival tense even though it used to be proper English grammar Slate Merriam Webster s Dictionary of English Usage Merriam Webster 1994 p 775 ISBN 978 0 87779 132 4 Retrieved 27 January 2013 External links EditConfusion over avoiding the passive Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title English passive voice amp oldid 1045935734 Passive constructions without an exactly corresponding active, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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