Interested in Language
1. He swam the 200 metres.
2. The 200 metres were swum (by him).
Is 'the' correct in no.1 ?
Can we treat 200 m as a whole, as a distance and use 'was' instead of 'were'?
I see you didn't like my mundane 'swum'.
Why are students obsessed with converting simple active sentences into the passive?
'He swam the 200 metres.' The is correct if you mean the 200 metre swimming race.
'He swam 200 metres' just means that he swam that distance informally, say at the seaside or eight times across a 25 metre-wide river.
In the passive, you would have to say respectively:
'The 200 metres was swum by him' and
'Two hundred metres were swum by him'.
But no native speaker would ever say that, and I don't know why you want to.
I have lost count of the lessons on the passive I have observed in which the form is presented entirely in terms of conversion from the active, and practice involves the students doing one conversion after another, sometimes with hopelessly inappropriate examples.
I get irritated by the number of questions we receive on this - but then I remind myself that it's not the learners' fault.
Last edited by 5jj; 11-Apr-2011 at 11:22. Reason: typo
It's not students who are obsessed with it. It's teachers. ;) They give you all kinds of artificial sentences just to make you practise the transformation.
I do realise you'd never say that. Thanks for a very nice explanation Rover.
Last edited by nyota; 11-Apr-2011 at 00:35.
I know that in some countries, teachers may not deviate from prescribed materials and methods. However, where that is not the case, then a teacher who is aware that a coursebook is presenting unnatural material should discard the book, or at least those parts of it that present material misleadingly, in my opinion.
No science teachers influenced by Darwinian ideas would dream of presenting a biblical version of the creation as 'science' if that appeared in their coursebook. And (as I have no wish to start a religious debate), no science teacher who believed absolutely in the creation story related in Genesis would teach evolutionary ideas as 'science'.
Coming from a family of competitive swimmers, I can actually imagine a use for this one (unlike so many that just are ridiculous).
In a swim meet, you have many races. You have the 100 meter freestyle, the 200 meter freestyle, the 400 meter freestyle, the 100 meter butterfly, etc.
A: So how did Mary do in the 200-meter free?
B: Actually, I put Mary in the 400 and 800 this time. She's showing promise as a distance swimmer.
A: Oh, so who swam the 200? Colleen probably?
B: Let's see... the 200 meter free was swum by... Colleen, yup, and Stacie and Allison. Allison had a personal best, and Colleen came in second by about two-tenths of a second.
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.