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Thread: passive voices

  1. #1
    aysaa is offline Senior Member
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    Default passive voices

    Hi,

    When there are two objects in an active sentence, there are two possible passive sentences.

    The students were explained the exercise by the professor.

    But I have read that in spoken English we can say:

    'I was told' instead of 'that was told to me'.

    I was told that you skipped the school.
    I was told I could go to jail because I can't pay back the debt.


    But:

    Can we use this stlyle for all the verbs or only the verb 'tell'?

    For example: ''I was written'' instead of ''that was written to me''.

    I was written that you skipped the school. (Is that OK?)
    Last edited by aysaa; 07-Mar-2012 at 18:50.

  2. #2
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: passive voices

    Quote Originally Posted by aysaa View Post
    Hi,

    When there are
    two
    objects in an active sentence, there are
    two
    possible active sentences and
    two
    possible passive sentences. I don't agree. The direct object in the active sentence becomes the subject of the pasive sentence. There are SOME verbs (like your "I was told" below) where this works, but many where it does not.

    The students were explained the exercise by the professor. No, not a valid sentence. The professor did not explain the students, (s)he explained the exercise. Therefore, "The exercise by explained to the student [by the professor]."

    But I have read that in spoken English we can say:

    'I was told' instead of 'that was told to me'.

    I was told that you skipped the school.
    I was told I could go to jail because I can't pay back the debt.


    But:

    Can we use this stlyle for all the verbs or only the verb 'tell'?

    For example: ''I was written'' instead of ''that was written to me''.

    I was written that you skipped the school. (Is that OK?)
    It will depend on the verb. "I was notified" that you skipped school, yes, but not "I was written."
    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.

  3. #3
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: passive voices

    When Barb D said "The exercise by explained to the student [by the professor]", I believe she meant to put "The exercise was explained to the students [by the professor].

  4. #4
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: passive voices

    Thank you - I did indeed mean that.
    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.

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