Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast
Results 11 to 20 of 22
  1. #11
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,369
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Can "be able to" be used in passive voice?

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    No offense intended, but it is downright weird to me to say that a driver can be chased by a policeman. Being chased is not something somebody does.

    No offense likewise, Ron.
    But are you saying that in the US drivers can't be chased by the police? It happens all the time here.

  2. #12
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    16,571
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Can "be able to" be used in passive voice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    No offense likewise, Ron.
    But are you saying that in the US drivers can't be chased by the police? It happens all the time here.
    Of course people can be chased by the police, but it is not an attribute. If I say I can be chased by the police I am commenting on something the police can do, not something I can do. Being able to be chased by the police is not a quality I have.


  3. #13
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,369
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Can "be able to" be used in passive voice?

    Quote Originally Posted by mykwyner View Post
    I can't make "be able to" work in a passive voice construction because the ability lies with the subject, not the object.

    The boy was able to play the piano. (active voice)

    The piano was able to be played by the boy. (passive voice) Very awkward and doesn't make sense

    The dog was able to chase the cat. (active)

    The cat was able to be chased by the dog. (passive voice) Makes a little more sense, but still very awkward
    Maybe this is a North American thing, this reluctance to use the passive with "able to".
    Which of the following are objectionable?
    1. "The piano was unable to be moved."
    2. "The search was called off because the man was unable to be found."
    3. "The missing boy was unable to be traced."
    4. "The broken violin was no longer able to be played."
    5. "Are cells phone able to be used on this plane?"

    Also, given that Ron finds it "downright weird to me to say that a driver can be chased by a policeman", how about:
    6. "Can a driver be chased by a policeman?"
    7. "Can a black man be elected to the White House in 2008?"
    8. "Can Michael Phelps be beaten?"
    9. "You can't be killed by a sheep bite."
    10. "You can be killed by a cobra."

    I believe all of these are grammatical and semantically meaningful.
    In any case, they're certainly unobjectionable in my dialect.
    Does anyone else have problems with them?

  4. #14
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    2,047
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Can "be able to" be used in passive voice?

    Raymott, the original point was could ability survive in a passive-voice transformation from subject to direct object. Remember, in the passive voice the active voice object takes the place of the subject, and the subject is moved into a prepositional phrase. None of your examples are passive voice.

    The cat was able to climb the tree. (active voice)

    The tree was able to be climbed by the cat. (passive voice and awkward)

    It is the subject of the sentence, not the direct object, that has the ability.

  5. #15
    engee30's Avatar
    engee30 is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Great Britain
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    2,819
    Post Thanks / Like

    Thumbs up Re: Can "be able to" be used in passive voice?

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    Of course people can be chased by the police, but it is not an attribute. If I say I can be chased by the police I am commenting on something the police can do, not something I can do. Being able to be chased by the police is not a quality I have.

    Exactly.
    Through saying:

    You can be chased by the police.

    you're not talking about somebody's ability to do something, but a possible thing that can happen to you when you have broken a law.
    Hence, you cannot transform the above sentence into:

    You are able to be chased by the police.


  6. #16
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,369
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Can "be able to" be used in passive voice?

    Quote Originally Posted by mykwyner View Post
    None of your examples are passive voice.
    OK, I'm willing to learn. Let's take one example:
    10a. "A cobra can kill you." (active voice)
    10b. "You can be killed by a cobra." (passive voice, IMO).

    If 10b. is not in the passive voice, what voice is it in ?
    If it's not the passive voice, then I think it still takes the form of the passive voice, which is probably the intent of the OP.

    PS.
    Are all these sites, and others from a Google search of "passive voice with modals" wrong for the same reason?

    http://www.pearsonlongman.com/ae/sum...64_Passive.pdf

    http://gmx.xmu.edu.cn/ews/exercises/.../01/01ex99.htm

    http://flang1.kendall.mdc.edu/6/620/

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/378673/The-Passive-Voice
    Last edited by Raymott; 17-Aug-2008 at 23:29.

  7. #17
    engee30's Avatar
    engee30 is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Great Britain
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    2,819
    Post Thanks / Like

    Post Re: Can "be able to" be used in passive voice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    OK, I'm willing to learn. Let's take one example:
    10a. "A cobra can kill you." (active voice)
    10b. "You can be killed by a cobra." (passive voice, IMO).

    If 10b. is not in the passive voice, what voice is it in ?
    If it's not the passive voice, then I think it still takes the form of the passive voice, which is probably the intent of the OP.
    It is the passive voice, but the verb can doesn't refer to ability in 10b.

  8. #18
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,369
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Can "be able to" be used in passive voice?

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    It is the passive voice, but the verb can doesn't refer to ability in 10b.
    Well, now hang on. mykwyner is saying it isn't the passive voice.
    Besides, I never mentioned "ability". I haven't changed any sentences with "can" into a passive sentence with "able to", so you have no argument (except your agreement with me that this sentence is in the passive voice, for which support I thank you).

  9. #19
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    2,047
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Can "be able to" be used in passive voice?

    10b. "You can be killed by a cobra." (passive voice, IMO).

    This is definitely a passive voice sentence. However, this string started when a user asked if the verb phrase "be able to" can be used in a passive voice construction. My contention is that it cannot, at least not without creating an awkward sentence (see my examples above).

    You have to realize that can is a verb, and able is an adjective and therefore these words (although they usually convey a similar meaning) are not interchangeable. Ability is an attribute, not an action, and this attribute must remain attached to the noun it refers to.

  10. #20
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,369
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Can "be able to" be used in passive voice?

    Quote Originally Posted by mykwyner View Post
    10b. "You can be killed by a cobra." (passive voice, IMO).

    This is definitely a passive voice sentence. However, this string started when a user asked if the verb phrase "be able to" can be used in a passive voice construction. My contention is that it cannot, at least not without creating an awkward sentence (see my examples above).

    You have to realize that can is a verb, and able is an adjective and therefore these words (although they usually convey a similar meaning) are not interchangeable. Ability is an attribute, not an action, and this attribute must remain attached to the noun it refers to.
    "This is definitely a passive voice sentence."
    OK, now how about my sentences with "able to" in post #13. Are you willing to revise your opinion for those as well? In what voice are sentences 1-5? Or do you consider them ungrammatical and/or meaningless in English?



Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Passive voice
    By renatofox in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 23-Mar-2008, 02:13
  2. Passive voice or active voice
    By fleming in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 30-Jun-2006, 03:38
  3. What is different between perfect tense and passive voice?
    By callonghouse in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 07-Mar-2006, 03:13
  4. organization
    By Aldana in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 12-Dec-2005, 10:20
  5. english grammar
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 17-Oct-2003, 15:27

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Hotchalk