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Thread: english grammar

  1. Anonymous
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    english grammar

    Can you please explain why it is incorrect to say "fresh chickens may be disappeared from Hong Kong" and
    it is NOT incorrect to say "fresh chickens may be sold in Hong Kong"? as both are passive voice and present participles.

    Thank you

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    #2
    Fresh chickens may be sold in Hong Kong.

    In the active, people may sell fresh chickens in Hong Kong.

    Fresh chickens may be disappeared from Hong Kong.

    You can't turn it into an active because there is no subject. unless you mean some people make the fresh chicken disappear :)

  2. jwschang
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    #3

    Re: english grammar

    Quote Originally Posted by hongkee tong
    Can you please explain why it is incorrect to say "fresh chickens may be disappeared from Hong Kong" and
    it is NOT incorrect to say "fresh chickens may be sold in Hong Kong"? as both are passive voice and present participles.

    Thank you
    1. A verb without a direct object cannot be expressed in the passive voice. E.g,
    (a) I disappear (active voice, no object).
    (b) I disappear you (active voice, "object" is "you", but such a sentence is grammatically wrong because "disappear" cannot have a direct object).
    [We can say: I MAKE you disappear, but here the verb is "make"].
    2. Since "disappear" cannot have a direct object, it cannot be expressed in the passive voice. So, we can say: Fresh chickens may disappear from Hong Kong (active voice); but we cannot say: Fresh chickens may be disappeared from Hong Kong (passive voice, but wrong grammar).
    3. "Sell" can have a direct object, so the verb may be expressed in either the active or the passive voice. E.g. "Ah Soh sold that chicken to Ah Beng" (active voice), or "That chicken was sold by Ah Soh (passive voice). So, we can say: Fresh chickens may be sold in Hong Kong. (passive voice).
    6. Note that the passive voice is awkward (and therefore not used) for certain verbs (even though these verbs can have a direct object and therefore can be expressed in the passive voice). E.g.,
    (a) Xiao Bao visited his friends (active voice, direct object "friends").
    (b) Xiao Bao's friends were visited by him (passive voice, but very awkward).
    7. Equally, some sentences are used in the passive voice because the active voice would be awkward. E.g.
    (a) Fresh chickens may be sold in Hong Kong (passive voice).
    (b) To put the above sentence in the active voice, we have to improvise or invent a subject for the verb: People/Shopkeepkers/etc may sell fresh chickens in Hong Kong.
    8. Read up on Transitive verbs (a verb which MUST have a direct object to complete its meaning) and Intransitive verbs.
    9. Some verbs are ALWAYS transitive; others ALWAYS intransitive (e.g. "disappear", "feel", etc); yet others can be used sometimes as a transitive verb, other times intransitive.

    Hope the above answers your question. :wink:

  3. jwschang
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    #4

    Re: english grammar

    Quote Originally Posted by hongkee tong
    Can you please explain why it is incorrect to say "fresh chickens may be disappeared from Hong Kong" and
    it is NOT incorrect to say "fresh chickens may be sold in Hong Kong"? as both are passive voice and present participles.

    Thank you
    Hullo Hongkee Tong

    Re the last line of my reply to you, there is an error. The verb "feel" is not always an intransitive verb; it is sometimes transitive, sometimes intransitive.
    (a) I feel happy (intransitive).
    (b) He felt the ground moving (transitive).
    (c) The ground was felt to be moving (passive).

  4. RonBee's Avatar
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    #5
    jwschang, that is quite a thorough explanation. It's worth reading twice. :)

    I would add to that that "may be" has the sense of giving permission, and nobody is likely to give chickens permission to disappear.

    :wink:

  5. jwschang
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    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    jwschang, that is quite a thorough explanation. It's worth reading twice. :)

    I would add to that that "may be" has the sense of giving permission, and nobody is likely to give chickens permission to disappear.

    :wink:
    You're right. I guess it was converted into passive voice from the original active voice "Fresh chickens may disappear...".

    I guess too that Hongkee Tong read that (the correct active voice sentence) in the HK papers, because over the past couple of years HK twice had a "chicken flu" epidemic of serious proportions resulting in a total culling of the birds in HK.

  6. RonBee's Avatar
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    #7
    I was wondering how that question came about. It now makes sense to me in a way it didn't before.

    I am sure the problem with the chickens is a temporary one.

    :wink:

  7. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #8

    Re: english grammar

    Quote Originally Posted by hongkee tong
    Can you please explain why it is incorrect to say "fresh chickens may be disappeared from Hong Kong" and
    it is NOT incorrect to say "fresh chickens may be sold in Hong Kong"? as both are passive voice and present participles.

    Thank you

    1. Fresh chicken may be sold in Hong Kong.
    2. Fresh chicken may be disappeared in Hong Kong. Ungrammatical

    The word 'sold' is an adjective, so it takes a linking verb "be". But the word 'disappeared' is a verb, so it doesn't need another verb, like "be". Adjectives, not verbs, need a linking verb.

    That is,

    1. may (modal) be (linking verb) sold (adjective)
    2. may (modal) disappear (main verb, potential in meaning)

    In short, "may be disappeared" is ungrammatical because there are two main verbs, 'be' and 'disappeared'. Either delete 'be' and -ed (3) or change 'disappeared' to an adjective by replacing -ed with -ing (4)

    3. Fresh chickens may disappear in Hong Kong.
    4. Fresh chickens may be disappearing in Hong Kong.

    Cas :)

  8. jwschang
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    #9

    Re: english grammar

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea


    1. Fresh chicken may be sold in Hong Kong.
    2. Fresh chicken may be disappeared in Hong Kong. Ungrammatical

    The word 'sold' is an adjective, so it takes a linking verb "be". But the word 'disappeared' is a verb, so it doesn't need another verb, like "be". Adjectives, not verbs, need a linking verb.

    That is,

    1. may (modal) be (linking verb) sold (adjective)
    2. may (modal) disappear (main verb, potential in meaning)

    In short, "may be disappeared" is ungrammatical because there are two main verbs, 'be' and 'disappeared'. Either delete 'be' and -ed (3) or change 'disappeared' to an adjective by replacing -ed with -ing (4)

    3. Fresh chickens may disappear in Hong Kong.
    4. Fresh chickens may be disappearing in Hong Kong.

    Cas :)
    (A) Continuous Participle used as an adjective:
    1. Before a noun: He is a tiring person.
    2. Used on its own without aux: The team, tiring fast, lost the game.
    3. Used with verb other than a form of Be: The journey seems tiring.
    4. Used with a form of Be but not expressing a tense (i.e. preceded by a preposition): This is tiring TO me.

    (B) Continuous Participle used as a verb:
    1. Active voice, Present/Past Continuous tense: He is/was tiring fast.
    1a. Active voice, Present/Past Perfect Continuous tense: He has/had been tiring fast.
    2. Passive voice: Not applicable because passive voice always uses the Perfect Participle.
    3. Active voice (with modal), Continuous tense: He may/might be tiring fast.
    3a. Active voice (with modal), Perfect Continuous tense: He may/might have been tiring fast. ("Have" here is always the Infinitive, like "Been" here and in (1a) above is always the Perfect Participle).
    4. Passive voice (with modal): Not applicable per (2) above.

    (C) Perfect Participle used as an adjective:
    1. Before a noun: This is a sold deal.
    2. Used on it own without aux: The house, sold for a song, was worth a lot more.
    3. Used with a verb other than a form of Have: The idea is sold on them. The idea seems sold on them.
    4. Used with a form of Have but not expressing a tense: Not applicable.

    (D) Perfect Participle used as a verb:
    1. Active voice, Present/Past Perfect tense: They have/had sold the house.
    2. Passive voice, Present/Past Perfect tense: The house has/had been sold.
    3. Active voice (with modal), Perfect tense: They may/might have sold the house.
    4. Passive voice (with modal), Perfect tense: The house may/might have been sold.

    (E) Simple Present/Past Tense:
    1. Active voice: He sells/sold the house(s).
    2. Passive voice: The house(s) is/are/was/were sold.
    3. Active voice (with modal): He may/might sell the house(s).
    4. Passive voice (with modal): The house(s) may/might be sold.

    (F) "Fresh chickens may be sold in Hong Kong" is (E) (4), and sold here is a verb, not an adjective.

    (G) "He is gone from here" is (C) (3), and gone here is an adjective. The grammar point is that:
    1. The PERFECT PARTICIPLE is never used to express a tense in the active voice with whatever form of Be.
    2. The PASSIVE VOICE (with or without modal) can only be used with a transitive verb (a verb with a direct object, because we need the object in the active voice to become the grammatical subject in the passive voice). ["Gone" is intransitive.]
    3. "Gone" as used in "He is gone" is not expressing a tense per (1), nor can it be in the passive voice per (2), so it is an adjective.
    4. "Sold" as used in "Fresh chickens may be sold in Hong Kong" is expressed in the passive voice, with the active voice object "fresh chickens" (say, "People may sell fresh chickens in Hong Kong") being the passive voice grammatical subject.


    I may be wrong, but I think I'm not.

    If I may add:
    The confusion arises because of (C)(3), (E)(2) and (E)(4).
    1. (E)(2): The house is sold for $100k (verb). The house is sold already (adjective).
    2. (E)(4): The house may be sold for $100k (verb). The house may be sold already (adjective).
    3. Whether verb or adjective depends on the context.
    (a) If in the given context, the Perfect Participle is DESCRIBING the grammatical subject of a sentence, then it is an adjective, and the sentence is NOT in the passive voice because the Perfect Participle is not used as a verb for construction of the passive voice.
    (b) Where in the given context, the particple is expressing an action done TO the subject (passive voice), then it's a verb.
    4. The context of the "chicken" sentence makes "sold" clearly a verb expressing the passive voice, not an adjective. It is clear that the sentence is NOT saying that the chickens may be (have been) already sold (off) in Hong Kong.
    5. If we substitute "can" for "may", we see this even clearer: Fresh chickens can be sold in Hong Kong. 8)

  9. RonBee's Avatar
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    #10
    I'm sold on your explanation.

    :wink:

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