Presentation on theme: "Passive Construction in English Sources: Radford, Andrew (2004). English Syntax, An introduction. Cambridge University Press Swan, Michael (2005). Practical."— Presentation transcript:
Passive Construction in English Sources: Radford, Andrew (2004). English Syntax, An introduction. Cambridge University Press Swan, Michael (2005). Practical English Usage, Third Edition. Oxford University Press
Why use passive voice in normal writing? To emphasize another part of the sentence besides the subject of the active verb. Billions of people watched the Beijing Olympics on TV. The Beijing Olympics were watched by billions of people on TV. Gives a sense of anonymity (see next)
Why is it recommended for use in scientific and medical fields, legal documents and other academic writing? Lets the facts stand on their own Enhances objectivity by taking the researcher out of the action Presents an “air” or feeling of logic
Effect on your own academic writing People reading your thesis or paper are going to be far less interested in you than in your work, so the emphasis should be on what you did and not on you. Also, by not saying "I weighed the sample" but "The sample was weighed," you make your writing sound more objective. Note: But be careful not to go overboard in your writing. If you do, it might sound awkward and confusing.
Four main properties which differentiate passive sentences from active sentences **Passive (though not active) sentences generally require the auxiliary “Be”. The main verb is in the past participle form (seen/stolen/taken). Passive sentence may (though need not) contain a by- phrase in which the compliment of by plays the same thematic role as the subject in the corresponding active sentence. The expression which serves as the complement of an active verb surfaces as the subject in the corresponding passive construction.
Examples They will watch the event. The event will be watched. They took everything. Everything was taken. Many warriors repelled the attack. The attack was repelled by many warriors. Wally stole the money. The money was stolen by Wally.
Variations No evidence of any corruption was found. There was found no evidence of any corruption. Several cases of bird flu have been reported. There have been reported several cases of bird flu. A significant change of policy has been announced. There has been announced a significant change of policy.
Verbs with two objects Many verbs, such as give, send show, lend, pay, promise, refuse, tell and offer, can be followed by two objects, an IO and a DO. Two structures are possible: – She gave her sister the car. – Her sister was given the car. – The car was given to her sister. The choice may depend on what has been said before (i.e. the context).
Passive verbs with prepositions The objects of prepositional verbs can become subjects in passive structures. – Nobody listens to her. – She is never listened to. Note the word order. The final preposition can never be dropped. If there is already a direct object, the second object (after the preposition) cannot become a passive subject – They threw stones at him. – Stones were thrown at him – *He was thrown stones at.
Sentences with a relative clause as the object Some sentence have clauses as their object. These cannot normally become the subject of passive sentences unless a preparatory it is added. – Nobody thought that she was a spy. – *That she was a spy was thought by nobody. – It was thought that she was a spy. A few verbs that are followed by infinitives (ex. decide, agree) can also be used in passive structures beginning with it. – They decided to meet at 12:00 – It was decided to meet at 12:00
He is believed to be… Many verbs can be followed by object + infinitive. Most of these can be made passive – We chose Felicity to be the Carnival Queen – Felicity was chosen to be the Carnival Queen. With verbs like think, feel and believe, the object + infinitive is rather formal and often unusual. – They believe him to be dangerous. – He is believed (considered) to be dangerous (common in news reports)