Results 1 to 7 of 7
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Indonesian
      • Home Country:
      • Indonesia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Sep 2010
    • Posts: 54
    #1

    Is/was designed - Passive voice

    Hi teachers,

    Pardon me, I don't know how to begin so I'll just jump straight to my question.

    Speaking in passive voice and even when referring to the present, does the tense of a sentence depend on the age of the subject?

    For example:

    1). The Empire State Building (is or was) designed to withstand high wind speeds.

    2). Apple's all-new iPad (is or was) designed to be thinner, lighter and faster than the previous version.


    I would of course use "is" in speech for sentence two because the new iPad has only been announced recently.

    However, I'm not sure which one is the right choice for sentence 1 because the Empire State Building is still standing in New York City, but the construction ended in 1931.


    Thank you.
    Robert
    Last edited by RobertT; 06-Mar-2011 at 14:20.

  1. engee30's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Apr 2006
    • Posts: 2,969
    #2

    Re: Is/was designed - Passive voice

    That reminds me of historic present, allowing the speaker to talk about past events in a more vivid way instead of using the past simple tense.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Indonesian
      • Home Country:
      • Indonesia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Sep 2010
    • Posts: 54
    #3

    Re: Is/was designed - Passive voice

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    That reminds me of historic present, allowing the speaker to talk about past events in a more vivid way instead of using the past simple tense.
    Just one of many aspects of English that teachers just don't teach at language centre and I wonder why.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 19,218
    #4

    Re: Is/was designed - Passive voice

    I would use "was" for both of those -- the design process is past.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 6,332
    #5

    Re: Is/was designed - Passive voice

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertT View Post
    Hi teachers,

    Pardon me, I don't know how to begin so I'll just jump straight to my question.

    Speaking in passive voice and even when referring to the present, does the tense of a sentence depend on the age of the subject?

    For example:

    1). The Empire State Building (is or was) designed to withstand high wind speeds.

    2). Apple's all-new iPad (is or was) designed to be thinner, lighter and faster than the previous version.


    I would of course use "is" in speech for sentence two because the new iPad has only been announced recently.

    However, I'm not sure which one is the right choice for sentence 1 because the Empire State Building is still standing in New York City, but the construction ended in 1931.


    Thank you.
    Robert

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Robert,


    (1) I found this statement from Professor Otto Jespersen:

    ... the combination of is + the past participle is still freely

    used in all those cases in which we think more of the

    resulting state than of the action.

    (2) I guess that this means the choice really depends on

    what you wish to emphasize.

    (a) Maybe it would be better to use "was" in No. l if you were

    emphasizing the work done by the architects. ("The architects were

    well aware of the weather conditions on the East Coast, so the

    building was designed ....")

    (b) On the other hand, "is" might be more appropriate if you were

    reassuring a frightened coworker inside that building that he

    had nothing to fear from the fierce winds hitting the building at

    that moment. ("Don't worry, dude. This building is designed to ....")

    (3) I also found some good common-sense advice on the Web:

    The purpose of speaking or writing is to communicate smoothly.

    Not to jar the listener/reader. In other words, not to make her

    stop for a moment in order to consider some minor grammatical

    point. (For example, my use of "her" probably made you ask

    yourself why I didn't use him, him or her, them!!!)

    (a) The bottom line:

    If you use the past tense, probably no one will pay attention.

    The present tense, however, may draw too much attention to the

    tense that you used.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Indonesian
      • Home Country:
      • Indonesia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Sep 2010
    • Posts: 54
    #6

    Re: Is/was designed - Passive voice

    Thank you Parser!

    That's really insightful.

    By the way, I would use "them" in the sentence of your third point. Not sure if that would be correct though.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 6,332
    #7

    Re: Is/was designed - Passive voice

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertT View Post
    Thank you Parser!

    That's really insightful.

    By the way, I would use "them" in the sentence of your third point. Not sure if that would be correct though.
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Mr. T.,

    (1) Everyone is expected to bring his/ her/ his or her/ their book

    to class tomorrow.

    (2) I think that nowadays all those forms are "correct." In the

    real world, most people no longer use "his" to refer to both

    genders; "her" would, of course, be very appropriate for an all-female

    class. Furthermore, some people use "her" to refer to both genders

    (as I did in my first post), and few people will object. For example:

    "A driver should not eat while she is driving"; it appears that "they"

    is now "winning" the contest. Although some of us older people are

    horrified by this usage, it seems to be the most acceptable by both

    genders. (Of course, "she/he" or "s/he" is really too ugly to use!!!)

    P.S. Some people avoid this problem by trying to make everything

    plural: Drivers should not eat while they are driving.

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] Active voice to passive voice paragraph translation
    By shruticool53 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-Jan-2010, 22:51
  2. [Grammar] active voice vs passive voice problem
    By carelessman in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 09-Sep-2009, 18:25
  3. [Grammar] changing an active voice sentence into passive voice
    By yashu in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 09-Mar-2009, 07:39
  4. [Grammar] A problem when changing the active voice into passive voice
    By imme9x in forum Frequently Asked Questions
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 16-Dec-2008, 10:21
  5. Passive voice or active voice
    By fleming in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 30-Jun-2006, 03:38

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

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