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    #1

    Some suppositions about passive structures. Are they correct?

    Hello everybody! This is my first post here and first of all I would like to introduce myself a little: Iīm a Spanish student very interested in grammar English structures. When I read English grammar books I like to go a little beyond because I always try to compare English structures with the Spanish ones and I like to see the similarities and the differences they may have. The other day I was reading a unit about reporting with passive verbs so I focused my attention on this structure:

    It + passive verb + that-clause
    (Example: It is reported that the damage is extensive.)

    The book says thereīs another way of saying the same, using as well a verb in passive form that is used when we want the subject to be the topic of the sentece. The structure is as follows:

    Subject + passive verb + to-infinitive
    (Example: The damage is reported to be extensive.)

    The book doesnīt say much more about this and there are few exercises to practice both structures. But Iīve thinking about this second structure a lot because in Spanish there isnīt anything similar like that. I mean, if we want to translate in Spanish a sentence with the structure Subject + passive verb + to-infinitive we have to do it as if it was written It + passive verb + that-clause, so they are both equivalent. My doubts arise when I try to make out about the possible different combinations of these second structure using different verbal tenses. So, I first focus my attention on the to-infinitive verb. Please, correct me if Iīm wrong but I think there are at least four kinds of infinitives. I donīt know if the following ones are their right names but I have tried to name them as I see them. Letīs take for example, the werb "to write". The different four kinds of infinitive would be the following:

    Full infinitive-------------------------------> to write
    Full perfect infinitive-----------------------> to have written
    Full continuous infinitive-------------------> to be writing
    Full perfect continuous infinitive-----------> to have been writing

    So I think with the structure Subject + passive verb + to-infinitive would admit these four variations:

    He is said to write a new novel.
    He is said to have written a new novel.
    He is said to be writing a new novel.
    He is said to have been writing a new novel.

    If all I have written until now is correct, here come more doubts: I think these four infinitives would admit different translations depending on the context, what is to say, these four sentences by themselves donīt always give us a clue about the right tense. They need to bet put in a concrete context if I want to be sure about that. For example, letīs imagine a conversation between two friends, when one of them knows a famous writer:

    John: What about the new novel of that famous writer? When will it see light?
    Peter: I donīt know much about it but he is said to write a new chapter everyday so I think it will be released soon.

    And now letīs imagine another slightly different conversation:

    John: What about that famous writer? He hasnīt released a book for years!
    Peter: Oh well, Iīve heard he has been very busy but the good news are that he is said to write a new novel next year.

    Iīm not sure if both conversations are possible or well written, but if thatīs the case I think the verb "to write" in the first conversation would have a present value whereas the verb "to write" in the second conversation would have a future value.

    Am I right or Iīm completely wrong? I have more doubts about this but for now Iīll very pleased if someone may explain to me whether all these thoughts are accurate.

    Thanks in advance!

  1. engee30's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Some suppositions about passive structures. Are they correct?



    • Join Date: Feb 2009
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    #3

    Re: Some suppositions about passive structures. Are they correct?

    Thank you so much engee30!

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