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Thread: Passive form

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    Default Passive form

    How can you inform this sentence in active? How many possible way to do that?
    They threw a stone at him

    My teacher taught me 2 ways to do that:
    _> The stone...
    -> He..........
    But if you read the Practical English Usage by Micheal Swan -page 390 you will realise there's no usage of way 2

    I wonder if the teacher taught me anymore wrong things?

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    Default Re: Passive form

    They threw a stone at him.
    So in the sentence we have an active verb form threw with two objects a stone and at him. The verb is transitive, having a direct object (a stone)...
    I tried to transform this "active" sentence into "passive" ones by changing the subject and using a passive verb form:
    1) The stone was thrown at him.
    2) He was thrown with a stone (?).
    (Did I reconstruct them all right, Belly T?)
    And I wonder too whether the second sentence/way is correct/possible/used...

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    Default Re: Passive form

    Yeah, all teachers here in Vietnam teach us the second way is acceptable, that's why now I'm wondering

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    Default Re: Passive form

    Doesn't it work with verbs like teach, like, having two direct objects?
    0. Mr. Minus tought me Maths.
    1. I was tought Maths by Mr. Minus.
    2. Maths was tought me by Mr. Minus.
    ??

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    Default Re: Passive form

    Yeah, maybe it included

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    Default Re: Passive form

    To form a passive, you need to consider who is the actor and who is the receiver of the action - the verb.

    "The dog bit the man"

    'The dog' acts - bites. 'The man' receives the act - is bitten

    To make it passive, bring the receiver to the front, move the actor to the end, and slip a passive verb in between.

    "The man was bitten by the dog"

    The subject is often left out

    "The man was bitten"


    Now look at this sentence:-

    "He wrote the book in Paris"

    'He' is the actor that writes, the book is the receiver that is written - what about Paris? Paris is not part of the problem. It is just additional information, saying where the book was written, so we ignore it.

    Move the receiver to the front, the actor to the end, and slip a passive verb in between.

    "The book was written"

    Then put Paris back - "The book was written in Paris"


    Now, the stone thrower.

    "They threw a stone at him"

    The same applies as previously. 'They' act - throw, 'a stone' receives - is thrown, and we ignore 'at him' because it is just additional information about the target of the stone.

    Receiver to the front, actor to the end, slip in the passive verb then put 'at him' back.

    "A stone was thrown at him".

    A sentence like this can be confusing. Many people think that 'him' is the object of the verb 'thrown', because 'him' receives the stone. It is actually the stone that is the object of 'throw', not 'him'.

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    Default Re: Passive form

    So, my teacher, she was wrong, wasn't she?

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    Default Re: Passive form

    Quote Originally Posted by Belly T View Post
    So, my teacher, she was wrong, wasn't she?
    It looks like it, but what is 'the second way' that she told you?

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    Default Re: Passive form

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Whitehead View Post
    It looks like it, but what is 'the second way' that she told you?
    Maybe it was the perfectly acceptable He had a stone thrown at him. Otherwise, a sentence starting 'He was thrown...' would be about a fight!

    b

    PS
    There's also a figurative use of 'thrown' [=made unsure/put off his stride]. If thrown were used in this sense, then my last sentence would apply both to a fight and to an uncertain response: He was thrown by her question.

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    Default Re: Passive form

    Quote Originally Posted by Belly T View Post
    But if you read the Practical English Usage by Micheal Swan -page 390 you will realise there's no usage of way 2
    Right. "at him" is an adverbial phrase. It tells us where the stone was thrown. "him" is housed within that phrase, and since it's a nominal (it's a pronoun) it can be a subject, but if we make it the subject of the passive form, the meaning of 1. changes. Like this,

    Active: They threw a stone at him. <He may have been hurt>
    Passive: He was thrown a stone. <He was given a stone>

    The reason the meaning changes is this. We've omitted "at" and along with it its semantic contribution. That tells us this. You can't take a nominal out of its adverbial phrase and make it a subject without altering the meaning of the sentence. "him" is part of a bigger unit, adverbial "at him".

    Now, to get the same meaning as 1., but in the passive voice, use the direct object as the subject:

    Active: They threw a stone at him. <He may have been hurt>
    Passive: A stone was thrown at him. <He may have been hurt>

    That's similar to what your teacher probably taught you, right? To use direct objects as the subject of a passive sentence. That's why 2. He_______ works; e.g., A truck hit him; He was hit by a truck.

    Now, you can topicalize an adverbial phrase, as shown below, but you can't omit "at" and make "him" into the subject "He":

    Passive: At him, a stone was thrown. <He may have been hurt> NOTE, "a stone" is the subject.
    Passive: He was thrown a stone. <He was given a stone>

    The question now is, did your teacher use sentences like 1. (that house adverbial phrases) to explain the passive? If so, then she was wrong. Did she though talk about those kinds of sentences?

    Nomninals housed inside adverbial phrases can't be the subject of a passive sentence. That's what Swan's page admits. Note that, "to him" doesn't work either:

    Active: Max gave him a book.
    Passive: He was given a book.

    Active: Max gave a book to him.
    Passive: To him was given a book.

    The reason it's incorrect is subjects must be nominals. "To him" is adverbial. But you can topicalize it and it's OK:

    Passive: To him, a book was given. NOTE, 'a book' is the subject.

    In short, I think (but I'm not 100% sure) Swan talks about this. (A) is the passive form of (B), not (C):

    Passive: (A) He was given a book.
    Active: (B) Max gave him a book.

    Active: (C) Max gave a book to him.

    (B)'s passive form looks like this:

    Passive: To him was given a book.
    Cf: At him was thrown a stone.

    All the best.
    Last edited by Casiopea; 22-Feb-2007 at 16:44.

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