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  1. #1
    tyrp is offline Junior Member
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    Question passive with explain, suggest etc

    Hello everyone,

    Having received the answer to my previous question about the 'chisel-weasel' thing, I'm back with another one . This problem deals with grammar.

    Several grammar manuals (incl. "Grammar and Vocabulary for Cambridge Advanced and Proficiency") claim that it's incorrect to make passive constructions with the indirect object as a subject if there're verbs like 'suggest, explain, announce, repeat, describe etc' as the predicate (those which take indirect objects with the prep 'to').

    So, according to this rule, the only way of passivising the sentence like:

    The teacher explained a new rule to his students.
    will be
    A new rule was explained to the students (by the teacher).

    However, to my ear the sentence
    The students were explained a new rule.
    doesn't sound that bad.

    Nor does the sentence:
    We were suggested a new idea.
    (though I'm not dead sure with this one).

    Could you please help me there? I'll be especially grateful to native speakers)

    Thanks in advance for your attention and help!

    PS: Which of them sounds better :
    A new idea was suggested TO us
    or
    A new idea was suggested FOR us?

  2. #2
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    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: passive with explain, suggest etc

    Quote Originally Posted by tyrp View Post
    So, according to this rule, the only way of passivising the sentence like:

    The teacher explained a new rule to his students.
    will be
    A new rule was explained to the students (by the teacher). .....YES

    However, to my ear the sentence The students were explained a new rule doesn't sound that bad. .....Well, it is.

    Nor does the sentence: We were suggested a new idea. (though I'm not dead sure with this one). ....That's bad too.

    A new idea was suggested TO us.
    or
    A new idea was suggested FOR us? Possible, but less likely.
    5

  3. #3
    tyrp is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: passive with explain, suggest etc

    Thanks a lot! I'll keep it in mind!

    I've got misled by the passage from a NZ site:
    "We were explained in detail how to get into our kayak, how to fasten the spray skirts, how to act when something is wrong and, of course, how to hold and use the paddles!" (New Zealand Kayaking, unfortunately I can't post the link as I'm a newbie here so far).

    Is this structure wrong or does the part 'how to get...' change everything? What about 'We were explained that....'? Should such structures be paraphrased too?

    Thank you for your help again!

  4. #4
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: passive with explain, suggest etc

    Quote Originally Posted by tyrp View Post
    "We were explained in detail how to ..."
    It's really an unnatural use, to my ear.

    The instructors explained how to...
    We received instruction on how to ...
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: passive with explain, suggest etc

    Quote Originally Posted by tyrp View Post
    "We were explained in detail how to get into our kayak,
    That is not natural English.

    (1 minute later) -Barb beat me to it, but you do now have the views of a speaker of BrE and one of AmE

  6. #6
    tyrp is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: passive with explain, suggest etc

    Thank you ever so much!

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