I need help again.
The active sentence is:
The policeman fined him for speeding.
If for some weird reason I want to change the sentence into a passive one, but still mention the policeman, how do I do it?
a) He was fined for speeding by the policeman.
b) He was fined by the policeman for speeding.
It would make more sense to me if it was the second option, but I'm not sure.
There's also the problem of misinterpretation. In some cases, you might be thought to be saying he was fined for speeding by the policeman (that is, going past him at speed)*. And in other cases (different words) there's almost infinite scope for humour along the lines of 'Piano wanted by a lady with carved legs'. The passive can get you into lots of trouble if you're not careful. Use it if it's appropriate, but be aware of the pitfalls.
PS *Coincidentally, my wife was fined for "speeding by" a policeman only yesterday evening - so that interpretation is not as unlikely or as facetious as some might think. In speech, the intonation would make it clear if you were using the verb 'speed by', but in writing the possibility of ambiguity is more likely.
Last edited by BobK; 26-May-2008 at 09:56. Reason: Added PS; then fixed typo
Wow, I never thought about the other possible meaning of 'speeding by the policeman'.
Thanks for the replies. I will use the structuring of b when I'm unsure about similar sentences.