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Lesson #8: The Passive Day 1: What the passive is and what it isn’t. Transitive verbs.

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Presentation on theme: "Lesson #8: The Passive Day 1: What the passive is and what it isn’t. Transitive verbs."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lesson #8: The Passive Day 1: What the passive is and what it isn’t. Transitive verbs.

2 The passive The passive is the most misunderstood structure in the English language. English teachers love to make pronouncements about it (as in “Avoid passives”) -- but many can not recognize passives! Part of the hatred for the passive is actually based on a dislike for the verb “BE.”

3 Recognizing a Passive There are two features that a verb phrase MUST have to be recognized as a passive: an auxiliary form of the verb “be” and a lexical verb in the past participle form. There are other restrictions, but without these two -- forget it.

4 Do better than an English teacher: find the passives 1.Has been taught 2.Is teaching 3.Have been being taught 4.Teaches 5.Is taught 6.Is being taught 7.Will teach 8.Taught 9.Will be being taught

5 English Teach Speak: “Avoid Passives” This is English-teacher-speak for two style concepts that we should address before continuing to actually learn something about the passive: avoiding wordiness (wordy) and avoiding relatively meaningless verbs (usage). Neither of these sins are passives. They are part of a kind of weak, flaccid style, but that doesn’t make them passives. In short, teachers wrongly use “passive” and “flaccid” synonymously.

6 Wordiness: (wordy) Here’s a sentence that a teacher mistakenly marked as passive. It’s not passive --- but it’s not a particularly good sentence either. When he first saw New Bedford, Mass., Douglass was doubtful of his own eyesight.

7 Wordiness Described Wordiness is characterized by: -- more words than the writer needs to express his/her point and/or -- use of the verb “be” as the lexical verb in the clause.

8 Wordiness Corrected When he first saw New Bedford, Mass, Douglass was doubtful of his own eyesight. When he first saw New Bedford, Mass., Douglass doubted his own eyesight.

9 Related English Teacher Speak: “Avoid Forms of the Verb Be” This is another injunction that English teachers love. They confuse “be” as the lexical verb with “be” as part of the passive and start targeting all forms of the verb “be” for extinction. Here’s a sentence that a teacher marked as passive. Example: His reaction was noisy.

10 Think About It If you listened to most English teachers and “avoided forms of ‘be’” you’d end up with: His reaction noisy. This is great Arabic, but bad English. Instead English teachers should say, “If possible restate sentences in which ‘be’ is the lexical verb. Choose a verb that has nuances and more precise meaning.” He reacted noisily.

11 The Passive: How it is formed To understand the passive, we must first understand that there are three important types of verbs in English: transitive, intransitive, and linking.

12 Transitive Verbs Transitive verbs are verbs that take one or more objects. Example: 1.I teach English and Spanish daily. 2.My dog is chasing an old cat. 3.The actress kissed her children in front of the crowd. 4.He kissed his wife on the cheek.

13 Finding the Object of the Verb In English, an object of the verb comes (usually) immediately to the right of the verb. An object can be: A noun phrase A pronoun A noun clause

14 Finding the Object Try replacing the object with an object pronoun.

15 Object Pronouns Singularplural 1st personMeUs 2nd personYouyou 3rd personHim/her/itthem

16 Examples I teach them daily. My dog is chasing it. The actress kissed them in front of the crowd. He kissed her on the cheek.

17 Rule #1 About The Passive Only transitive verbs can be made passive. In other words, for a clause to be made passive, its original form (called “the active”) has to have a transitive verb phrase followed by an object of the verb.

18 Forming the Passive Start by laying out the parts of the sentence. Find the subject, the verb phrase, and the object. SubVb Phr.Obj. /The doctor/ was examining /the patient/.

19 Determine the tense and aspect of the verb phrase. Example: Was examining = past tense, progressive aspect.

20 Insert a form of “be” right before the lexical verb and maintain the same tense and aspect as the original verb phrase. Change the lexical verb to the past participle. Was being examined

21 Reverse the positions of the subject and the object and stick the word “by” in front of the former subject. The patient was being examined by the doctor.

22 With a partner, determine if the verb phrases are transitive. If they are, find the object. Then make them passive: Shipwreck stories form an important part of American colonial literature. A review of Spanish colonial literature finds four major shipwreck narratives. Researchers have found the earliest of these narratives in the diary of Christopher Columbus. Columbus mentioned a shipwreck in the diary of his third voyage. Another famous shipwreck story is the story of the Spanish sailor, Pedro Serrano. His story appears in Los comentarios reales by El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Serrano spent seven years on an island. One day a ship saw his campfire. The captain sent a boat to rescue him. The most famous shipwreck narrative of the period comes from the writing of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca. This Spanish explorer’s boat crashed on the coast of Florida in the early sixteenth century. He wandered from Florida to Mexico. His trip lasted seven years. Los infortunios de Alonso Ramirez by the Mexican writer Carlos Siguenza y Gongora tells another shipwreck story. This story is fictional. However, modern literary scholars consider this story a precursor to the modern novel.

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