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  1. #1
    Y-o-u-s-e-f is offline Newbie
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    Lightbulb How do you form the PASSIVE of this??

    Hello there,

    At university, we were lucky to have a grammarian Englishman who taught us to form the passive of Present Perfect Continuous like this example:

    ACTIVE: John has been writing a letter for two hours.
    PASSIVE: A letter has been being written for two hours.

    In fact, I am not questioning my teacher's knowledge, neither have I any objection to follow the above grammatical rule; But.....

    the question is:
    Why haven't I heard or read similar passive formulations as such?!!

    Well, I've heard some native English speakers criticize this way of formulation and claimed it to be awkward, clumsy and even incorrect.

    I found their comments inconvenient, mainly because they were not specialized in the language. And ,maybe, because I've always been satisfied with my teacher's justification to formulate the passive as he instructed.

    Now I guess this is the right place to discuss this issue, and I hope to see some satisfying input here.

    So please have your say.

    Thanks in advance

    Yousef

  2. #2
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    Re: How do you form the PASSIVE of this??

    Your teacher was right. What do think it should be?

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    Re: How do you form the PASSIVE of this??

    Quote Originally Posted by Belly T View Post
    Your teacher was right.
    OK, but that's not what the poster is asking, Belly T. Please read Y-o-u-s-e-f's post more carefully. He asks,
    Quote Originally Posted by Y-o-u-s-e-f
    the question is:
    Why haven't I heard or read similar similar passive formulations as such?!!

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    Re: How do you form the PASSIVE of this??

    No, Casiopea, you misunderstood mine
    His teacher was right, but he may believe that the teacher was not-so-right.
    To yousef: You haven't heard or read similar formulation because you didn't.

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    Re: How do you form the PASSIVE of this??

    Welcome, Y-o-u-s-e-f.

    Firstly, the present perfect continuous is rarely used in its passive form.(Here's one source. Many more state the same.)

    Second, the reason passive perfect continuous sentences are rare is this. They are difficult to process. The best explanation for that, I think, is found in Zellig S. Harris' operator grammar. The -en of the passive (i.e., been) and the -en of the perfect (i.e., written) both have the same [semantic] source, something like a state of The result:

    Ex: A letter has been being written for two hours.
    => A letter has the state of its being in the state of John writing it.

    It's grammatical, yes. Just difficult to process. Imagine the thought processes of a person who's in the midst of forming a passive present perfect sentence. Now imagine the listener or reader. No reason such sentences are rare.

    As for the reason English even has passive perfect continuous sentences, [/url=http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9108a&L=linguist&P=1370]one linguist[/url] offers the following, working from the example The car had been being cleaned (all week). He writes,
    "[They] are restricted to contexts in which it is important to convey (in this case) that an event with a result was ongoing in the past but is completed now. Usually, we don't need to be quite that specific and we emphasize either that an event was ongoing or that it is completed."

    Hope that helps a little.

    Harris, Sellig S. 1982 . A Grammar of English on Mathematical Principles. New York: Wiley.

    Harris, Zellig S. 1990. Language and Information. New York: Columbia University Press.

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    Re: How do you form the PASSIVE of this??

    Hi,
    I thought the Perfect Continuous Passive did not exist, only Active.
    OK, I was wrong, it does, but itís so cumbersome that in practice itís hardly ever necessary to use it - there are other, simpler ways to convey all the implications it can have.
    Regards
    Last edited by Humble; 21-Feb-2007 at 12:57.

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    Re: How do you form the PASSIVE of this??

    Quote Originally Posted by Humble View Post
    Hi,
    AFAIK the Perfect Continuous Passive does not exist, only Active - so the teacher was wrong.
    Rgs
    Would you care to offer us your reason? Please be reminded, this is a "discussion" forum.

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    Re: How do you form the PASSIVE of this??

    I am sorry,
    As it often happens I posted a few hours after I read the question - without making sure there have been some other posts already.

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    Re: How do you form the PASSIVE of this??

    Quote Originally Posted by Humble View Post
    I am sorry,
    As it often happens I posted a few hours after I read the question - without making sure there have been some other posts already.
    I've also done that before, and so have others. No worries.

    Note though, it's OK to edit your post for punctuation, grammar, clarity, and/or additional information, but please do not change the meaning of your post. Doing that might get you into trouble with other posters. Please, be careful. You can add to your post by sending a new post. (By the way, changing one's opinion isn't, as they say, a woman's prerogative (an an exclusive right, privilege).

    All the best.

  10. #10
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    Re: How do you form the PASSIVE of this??

    Thank you for your lenience, Cas.
    I couldn't help deleting my blunder. But there was no deception, was there?

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