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  1. #21
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Can "be able to" be used in passive voice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    "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?


    Furthermore, considering the OP, the following is possible:
    "By means of new production monitoring, the development of overall equipment efficiency was able to be discovered."
    I agree that this is an awkward sentence, but that doesn't make it wrong or illegitimate as an illustration of grammar. It uses "to be able", and it's in the passive voice.

    I also understand the point being made about the subject being the one who "is able to do" something; though I think it's a separate argument from the one about whether "be able to" can be used in the passive voice. (That debate would be "Can a sentence with "be able to" be put into the passive voice and have the adjectival component "able" still apply to the same subject")

  2. #22
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    Default 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.

    Hi Ron.

    If you say “The driver can be chased by the police”, this is certainly something the driver can do. However, as you say it also involves the ability of the police to chase the driver too.
    It is logically necessary for both to be true.
    The attribute of “the ability to chase/be chased” does not lie simply in “the police” or in “the driver”, but in the relation “police” X “driver.”, where X stands for a relation. Imagine if the driver, for some reason, became unable to be chased by the police. Then, by logical necessity, the police are unable to chase the driver. (But how could this happen if the ability was inherent property of the police?)

    I think you would agree that if “A is able to verb B”, then it is logically necessary that “B is able to be verbed by A”. (If you doubt that, think of a few examples and post them)
    The “ability to verb” is not an attribute of either A or B by themselves but of the relationship A X B.
    If it were purely an attribute of A, one could replace B with C, and assert “A is able to verb C”
    But this might not be true. C might be a stationary post. The Police can’t chase a stationary post. And it’s not that the police have lost any powers. It’s just that the relation A X C is not the same relation as A X B. And the “can verb / ability to verb” is part of the relation X, not purely in A.

    I believe English handles this relation quite well. You can change an active sentence: “A is able to verb B” into the passive voice “B is able to be verbed by A”, because the relation X (which contains source of the ability) is merely stated in an inverse, but logically equivalent way.

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